This review is taken from Stand 223, 17(3) September - November 2019.

Peter Robinson, Ravishing Europa (Worple Press, 2019)
Keith Hutson, Baldwin’s Catholic Geese (Bloodaxe Books, 2019)
Peter Bennet, Mischief (Bloodaxe Books, 2018)
Denise McSheehy, The Plate Spinner (Oversteps Books, 2017)

Peter Robinson’s Ravishing Europa – with its intentionally ambiguous title – confronts the personal and public implications of the June 2016 EU referendum. Robinson, a poet who has travelled widely and lived abroad (in Japan and Italy), has come through turbulent emotions to ‘feel an alien  in exile from myself ’ (‘Leave to Remain’).

His determination to remain in Europe – at least in terms of identification – is repeatedly announced in the book’s opening poem, ‘Belongings’. It begins with the personal – the poet socialising on the train from Milan. There is also a hint of Browning’s hymn to England, ‘Home-Thoughts, from Abroad’ (in the reference to local flora) which perhaps suggests an ambivalence in the poem (‘as if the in-two-minds of Europe  were fighting it out through you’). Not that Robinson is any less English for being European. He rightly despairs at the need to choose.

In ‘Ravishing Europa’, sickened by the bickering and duplicity on television about the issue, he is reminded of the seduction of Europa, retires to bed to bad memories about a real rape he witnessed years before, then wonders if our desire to leave is an act of love of country or  violence  to Europe. For Europe is ‘a scapegoat, an alibi,  for the anger and grief leaving couldn’t relieve’, he writes in ‘The ...
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