"The Glacial Staircase" collects almost a decade's new poems and sequences by the Cambridge-based author Peter Riley. Most of the longer pieces derive from experiencing an unfamiliar place, in this book, highland and wilderness (the Pyrannees, the Apennines, Derbyshire, Haute Provence, the American west). Other pieces are set at home, or in places the author has never been to at all. Little time is spent in describing, beyond reassuring the reader of a firm position on the earth. The localities are taken as theatres for a self-questioning of place and person. The pressures of history, culture, and the language reach across the world and confront the traveller. Written response is a shield and a shelter offered to, shared with, the innocent reader: extended disquisition and monologies, collections of fragmented noticings, and sudden bursts of song.