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Peter Dent’s Private Utopias

Peter Dent’s Private Utopias

Peter Dent’s Private Utopias: or ‘Noises in the Head’ (Oystercatcher Press 2013) contains utterances that are to be relished as poetic artifacts that reverberate with flamboyant first person narratives and odd distillations of life falling between public and private familiarity. Here are pinpricks along a number of discourses that probe viewpoints and show the weave in and out of a number of binary oppositions. It is the suggested otherness, the private utopia, which works in balance with an implicit probing that lifts the poems off. Words and phrases from distinct discourses intermingle with colloquialisms and clichés. Significantly, they are not juxtaposed and thus the reader is often confronted with a sequence of linked lines where public and private coalesce. There may be slippages, as the back cover blurb suggests, but they are unitary slippages inherent to the narrative.


You may well ask ‘why’ but they couldn’t possibly say   so


heads it’s a tailspin tails it’s a guaranteed loss leader   who

read the outcome should have voiced their concern at the

time  for two pins I’d swap our current preoccupation with


fixing outcomes for a decent walk – any walk – in the hills

if that means being in two minds well so be it   I’m not a


It is wonderfully rich and open poetry, adopting Robert Creeley’s maxim to have more than one event per line. Dent regularly offers one and a half events per line that make the poems zip along in an unpredictable but lucid manner. It is possible to approach the poems with different reading strategies that offer ways toward an immensely satisfying journey. It is Dent’s great achievement that they are both settled and unsettling.


I could be a gift to an implant manufacturer  one creating


private utopias but it’s late in the day   curiosity about the

instruments of Java and Bali combines with the howling of a

pack of wolves to restore hope in a world more dangerous



David Caddy






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