Despite the fact that Anthony Lawrence has been publishing poetry for almost twenty years, producing nine collections since Dreaming in Stone appeared in 1989, and has been awarded numerous prizes, his work has received surprisingly little critical attention. Among the few critics who have written on his poetry, there appears to be a consensus that, at his best, Lawrence is 'one of our finest poets' (Beveridge 198). There is also general agreement that his work is characterised by a preoccupation with themes including travel, fishing, the natural world, rural life, death and violence, human emotion, intimate relationships, perception and imagination, and the processes of reading and writing poetry. However the consensus ends there, and Lawrence's work has prompted diverse, even antithetical, reactions from critics and reviewers. There is a sense that at times they do not know what to make of Lawrence's idiosyncratic style, which ranges from the jocosely narrative to the sensuously lyrical, from the confessional to the surreal. Adjectives such as 'bewildering' (Duwell, Rev. of Cold Wires), 'different' (Edgar 183), 'compelling' (Duwell, Rev. of Darkwood Aquarium), and 'troubling' (McLaren 183) feature in reviews.
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