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Ways of dying

March 2006, no. 279

The Well Mouth by Jeri Kroll

FACP, $24.95 pb, 93 pp, 1921064242

Ways of dying

March 2006, no. 279

Philip Salom’s tenth collection of poems offers readers an experience akin to falling over the edge of a well into a frightening subterranean world. The Well Mouth is dark, allusive, ironic, brutal, perplexing and confronting, and so it can be alternately rewarding and irritating. Readers should not miss the explanatory paragraph before the prologue; otherwise they risk being as disoriented as the central narrative consciousness, a woman murdered by corrupt police and dumped down a well. She makes the collection cohere as a kind of ghostly medium, channelling the voices of the newly dead, some of whom are described as ‘whistleblower, brothel madam, long-distance driver, woman lost in the bush, old solider’. 

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