the writer does not write / the words that are there / or the words that are not . . .
Tumbling through the cunt of Elizabeth I, kissing boys and kissing girls, I lock myself inside my house with 365 rooms and fifty-two staircases.
O victor-bird, o vector, / I am like you, a non-state actor, / Death-fletched, alive, immune to all elixirs.
Valleys, oceans, crumbling earth, slices of tomato, milk, the presence of something ethereal, the absence of something wild.
I can only describe the narrator as a lost zoologist who must regress into memory and childhood yet also cannonball our awareness into a strange new world.
I am often concerned by the use of deaths as openers, and about the ethics of condensing the entirety of a person’s life into a soundbite, into an enticing introductory hook.
I don’t like émigré simply because I agree with the book’s sociopolitical underpinnings (although I do), but because it’s beautiful and well-crafted.
I’d heard of Carolyn DeCarlo, Sophie van Waardenberg and Rebecca Hawkes in publications like Starling, Landfall and Sweet Mammalian; AUP New Poets 5 gives them centre-stage.
I sat with this book for a very long time. Dipped in and out, from all points, like a capybara in an onsen.
Harkin is active in her writing and recording of what was done and to whom. People from the past return through her words, they do not remain buried in the archives.
This isn’t a book claiming to be anything it’s not. It’s a tender observation of the small things…
My notes for the remainder of this response continue for several pages. A loose-leaf file of notes and photographs is, it turns out, far harder to summarise than a traditional story.
…it is curiously simple, in many ways, it doesn’t hurt, not in the usual way; perhaps I am jaded, perhaps I am accustomed to being flayed to pieces.
From the outset, the cryptic explanation at the front of the book has me thinking in problem-solving, puzzles, codes. What links to what? What isn’t what it seems? What does it seem?
Each poem is exquisitely layered as things are held at arm’s length, obstacles loom, the real world intrudes bright and harmonic, words are lithe on the line.
Murray’s fluctuating rhythm and rhymes are like shifting river currents, his poem a river poem carrying the debris of story, hand-me-down anecdote.
A chilled evening in August seemed as good a time as any to raise the dead, and thus we catapulted the special “exquisite corpse” Issue 9 of Minarets into the world on National Poetry Day 2018.
I am thinking of creating (private) lists of books to read in particular circumstances. For example what to read when you have no power or running water and can only read by candlelight after a day consumed with slow-paced domestic chores.
“In the future (which isn’t too far off now, about fifty years or so, I’d guess), the scientists of the world will study love. Love will be the only science left to discover anything new about. The oceans, space, time, all things macro & micro, will have been measured & graphed, understood to the nth degree. But love will still mystify. Carolyn DeCarlo & Jackson Nieuwland are (will be?) two of those scientists.”
Compound Press published Fiddlehead, a long poem by Steven Toussaint, late in the Southern Hemisphere Summer of 2014 (April-ish). It has now gone out of print, but a really wonderful recording has been made of Steven reading the work in its entirety. This is great news for experiencing this poem, because one of the most compelling features that made the manuscript stand out to us was the presence of a refrain, repeated like semi-regular clockwork throughout.