It is unfortunate that the poetry of Andrew Motion is not better known in the United States. Despite its occasional appearance in The London Review of Books and the Times Literary Supplement, his poetry remains one of England’s best-kept secrets. Of his three previous books of poetry, only the first—The Pleasure Steamers, published in 1978—is currently available in the United States. (Carcanet, the estimable British publishers who started distributing their titles in America two years ago, have sensibly included this title on their backlist.) Dangerous Play, Motion’s most recent book, seems headed for the same unlucky fate as its two predecessors, Independence (1981) and Secret Narratives (1983), both of which were published by the Salamander Press of Edinburgh but were never distributed here. The Penguin edition of Dangerous Play, which...


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