Fran Brearton enjoys a deft exploration of the artificiality of art in framing and containing its subject
Sinéad Morrissey's brilliant, Forward prize-shortlisted fifth collection, she defines its title as: "Parallax (Astron.) Apparent displacement, or difference in the apparent position, of an object, caused by actual change (or difference) of position of the point of observation." It's a fertile subject for a book that reveals an interest in parallax in all its multiple senses – photographic, philosophical, political. In photography, for instance, parallax is "the incorrect framing of an image due to the differing positions of the viewfinder and the lens" (OED). Morrissey, who has always been concerned with what lies "between here and there", the visible and invisible, with the artificiality of art in framing and containing its subject, exploits the potential inherent in this not immediately promising technical problem with consummate skill. Her previous collection, Through the Square Window, reimagined the window on to the world familiar from TV's Play School; here, films, paintings, maps, and particularly photographs – of "the different people who lived in sepia -/ more buttoned, colder" ("A Lie") – prompt reflections on perception and deception, what can and can't be captured within the frame of the poem, what the truth leaves out.