11 June 2011

More poetry books I have read (13-16)

I am giving up on writing separate posts for each poetry book I've been reading, at least until I feel like doing it again. I may resort to just listing them. There are many other things to juggle, and while I generally fail, I try to juggle them in a sensible, prioritised fashion. No, that's a lie - if I tried to do that I'd spend much more time writing my own poetry, and less time on twitter or reading news on the internet. Instead, I have good intentions.


Because Paradise, by Charlotte Trevella (13/52)

I was really curious to read this book because the year I judged the junior section of the New Zealand Poetry Society's annual competition (2008) the winning poem was by Charlotte Trevella. (It was 'Other people's gardens' and you can read it on the Poetry Society site) Turned out one of the highly commended poems was also by her. And it turned out that she'd won the year before, and possibly the year before that. So definitely someone to watch.

And yet, when reading Because Paradise, I wished that I could forget I knew that, forget that she was a teenage wunderkind, because it kind of affected how I read the book. I particularly found the poems that were full of nostalgia a bit hard to take - I mean, what does a teenager to be nostalgic for - they've barely lived. Then again, children and teenagers are probably the most nostalgic people of all, and I guess there is something about that teenage nostalgia for childhood, that seemingly carefree time they've just left.

Despite my misgivings, and feeling that Trevella would have been better to have waited until she was older before pubishing her debut collection, there were some lovely poems and lovely lines in there. And I'm still a fan of 'Other people's gardens'.

In Vitro, Laura Solomon (14/52)

Laura Solomon's debut poetry collection. I wrote about this book when I included a poem from it as my Tuesday Poem: http://wingedink.blogspot.com/2011/05/tuesday-poem-conversation-overheard-on.html.

Small Stories of Devotion, by Dinah Hawken (15/52)

This is an amazing book. It's not the first time I've read it - I read it several times many years ago when I was first discovering Dinah Hawken - probably back in 1995 when Mark Pirie and I interviewed Dinah for one of the very first issues of JAAM. I love many things about this book, starting with the shape (it's almost square). It's full of gloriously connected but varied poems. It's mysterious but also grounded in physical reality. I always recall it as a book of female power, but it's much more than that. It's hard to describe. It's beautiful. Reminds me it's time to go and read Hawken's most recent collection, The Leaf-Ride.

Kingdom Animalia: The Escapades of Linnaeus, by Janis Freegard (16/52)

I went to the launch of this, and was lucky enough to get to see the author reading whilst wearing a rather fantasic long-beaked mask. (You can see Janis in the mask reading a 'The Icon Dies' on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfS_b52SBNE).

I have a particular liking for poetry books that work as books, so enjoyed the arrangement of Kingdom Animalia - there six sections relating to a different order of animals (Linnaeus's taxonomy apparently), with the poems in them referencing in some way an animal (or animals) in that order. Woven between them are poems about Linnaeus, parts I to VII.

The poems I particularly enjoyed in the collection tended, I found, to be the more surreal ones. 'Three Hummingbirds' is a favourite.

1 comment:

Mark Pirie said...

Hi Helen. Definitely get hold of Dinah Hawken's new book "The leaf-ride" (VUP, 2011) which came out last month. It's a strong book. She has a reading coming up at Millwood Gallery in Thorndon which looks good too.