09 January 2009

Review of My Iron Spine in Takahe

I was delighted to discover this morning, when I finally sorted through a bunch of mail for JAAM, which had been forwarded on by Mark Pirie (my publisher and former managing editor of JAAM - when we first started JAAM, we used his dad's place for the address, then we shifted to Mark's address, then we got a PO Box. Mark's dad has moved, but years later JAAM mail is still going to his old address), and I discovered a copy of Takahe 65, containing a review of My Iron Spine!

The review, by Patricia Prime, takes My Iron Spine along with Tributary by Rae Varcoe and The Museum of Lost Days by Raewyn Alexander, and looks at them as all transforming 'personal observations into universal truth'.

About the first (autobiographical) section of my book, she says '[t]his is not the indulgence of a self-obsessed woman ruminating on mundane moments heightened by its references to the cold war, God and art, to which we can all relate, rather it is the exultation in presenting these very movments in the tight metre which illuminatates both the language and the experience'.

And of all three books she gushes:
These are poems which will make you gasp - with wonder, delighted, laughter and amazement. Their power to do all this resides in more than their subject matter. Every word, line, verse and stanza in these three collections has been weighted against the highest measure of truth and lucidity. Their work is distinguised by its virtuosity, control of language and feeling. The poems are imbued with a combination of intelligence and compassion.
Can't complain about that!

Also in Takahe 65 are poems by such writers as Emma Neale, John O'Connor, Mark Pirie and Helen Lendorf, stories by Owen Marshall and others, and essays including one on the artwork of Seraphine Pick. I also discovered that my dear friend Vana came second in the Takahe Poetry Competition (judged by Michael Harlow), and that the lovely Siobhan Harvey is taking over from James Norcliffe as poetry editor for Takahe. I guess this means that editing JAAM 25 hasn't put Siobhan off editing literary journals, which will be to our literary benefit I'm sure!

In other news, it is my last day of proper holiday - though I do have the weekend to go. To confirm my holiday-ness, I'm still in my dressing gown. I have been up for ages though, reading.

It has continued to be much more of a reading holiday than a writing one, though I have gotten back to writing in my journal in the last few days. I have been (and still am) in a mood where I want to stuff other people's words into my brain.

Since my last post, I've finished the fabulous book of interviews with David Lynch, Lynch on Lynch. I find his way of working so inspiring. He's very intuitive and refuses to explain his movies, believing logical explanation ruins the magic.

I've started and finished a biography of French writer Colette - about whom I knew very little - she's always been a little confused in my head with George Sand, though I knew she was more recent. Katherine Mansfield mentions Colette in her letters or journals (or possibly both) - she had a dream about her one time. I had thought of Colette as a generation earlier, and though she was born a little before KM, they were both in Paris during the First World War, and had at least one 'friend' in common - Francis Carco, with whom KM had an affair. And Colette went on living long after KM, dying in 1954 at the age of 81.

I'd been meaning to read some of Michael Chabon's books for a while, after hearing that he's really good (though I suppose you'd expect a Pulitzer-winner to be good). So when we were looking for some more holiday reading (as if we need anymore books!) at Archway second-hand bookshop in Pukerua Bay, I picked up a nice looking copy of Chabon's The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. I was irritated to find, when I got home and popped it into the appropriate place of our overstuffed fiction shelves (yes, I alphabeticise my fiction by author - I used to be a pretend-librarian, and it helps me find things and I think it looks impressive) that I already had a copy. 'Time to actually read it', I thought. And, because it is a teeny book, it didn't take very long. This was Chabon's first book, written when he was 23. I admit to making jealous and bitter remarks about this while reading it, because it's very good.

I'm now reading at least three things: The Story of Film, which I started ages ago and have just got back into this morning, and The Story of a New Zealand River by Jane Mander and The Story of a New Zealand Writer about Jane Mander. I can't quite decide whether to read her most famous novel first, or read about her first, so I've been reading a little bit of each. I think I might carry on faster with the novel though - the biography probably has spoilers.

1 comment:

Harvey Molloy said...

Happy new year, Helen. I'm glad that My Iron Spine has received the good review that it so clearly deserves. Thanks for the news about Siobhan stepping in to edit Takahe's poetry: I'm going to renew my subscription as I didn't receive the last issue so it must have expired.