21 March 2009

My Iron Spine reviewed in Bravado

There was a reasonably positive review of My Iron Spine in the latest issue of Bravado (thanks to Harvey for letting me know).

The reviewer, Tim Upperton, says he read it in one sitting. He says the 'poems aren't so much discrete inventions as they are an unfolding of an idea', and 'carefully crafted'.

He was most engaged by the first section - the 'autobiographical' poems. Particularly, it would seem, because he finds the book a bit too thematic in the later sections. I guess thematic isn't for everyone.

He picked out 'Gardening with Ursula Bethell' as a 'fine poem', and I was pleased he recognised it as a 'reading of Bethell's own gardening poems in From a Garden in the Antipodes' - though it isn't just about that - it's also about migrants, and making yourself a home in new places. Oh, and my own inabilities as a gardener.


Tim Upperton said...

Hello, Helen! I haven't got my copy of Bravado yet, and can't remember what I wrote very well. I enjoyed your book very much. Of course I enjoyed some poems more than others, as is always the case, but I think if you can find a half dozen poems in a collection that really engage you as a reader, then the book's worth the purchase price - and I found more than half a dozen in yours!

I guess - to elaborate on that comment I made regarding Ursula Bethell - I would say that she, too, is implicity evoking the problems of a migrant settling in a new, comparatively harsh country: "I am glad that my chrysanthemums / Are tied up to strong posts" ("Response"); "Pioneer plants on those uplands find their own footing" ("Pause"). Nice to find your blog!


Helen Rickerby said...

Hi Tim - how quickly you found my post! Thanks very much for the review. And you are quite right about Ursula Bethell, absolutely she was dealing with that same issue. I really oughtn't forget where I nicked things from!

I'm delighted you found poems you liked in My Iron Spine - it's the most a poet hopes for (unless the poet hopes for fame and fortune, in which case the poet is deluded).