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.
This is my ambered sarcasm. / This is my garden’s rough / cut blossom my / bitter jewel with veins of pearl / and the hard-edge glow of the / indigestible.
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…
by friday / i am 50% used up / tho i’m tired / i make my weekly pilgrimage / taking foodscraps up to the compost bins at the innermost gardens
They build a cardboard shell to become larger, and paint a white stripe down the centre of the face.
watch me disappear. live / & never let but i’m / fine. for it’s not / a thing of bitterness / but love / demolished, set against itself, / not a thing to stir
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.
into the ship’s side the over her lowered we ,after days four and ,calms of / belt been had we as soon as suddenly give-way to seemed
do you feel the quiet? / it’s you. // do you see the quiet? / nah, you.
memory seafoam / a big surprise / lose balance / rug burn / mirror crash / car engine runs / aircon on / soft pat cheeks / emit fuel price / double click / to hide white space
…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.
I would say we are in a museum wing, / or some kind of movie-fantasy chalet, waiting / for a villain to arrive on the ski field.
5 poems from Filipino idioms—”How could I know what was coming? / A relief to look up and recognise nothing.”
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?
others who emerge // every day // wearing different clothes // who want to reshape / the horizon the steep cliffs / who live in houses which slide // now & then into the sea
It was only then that they realised that the floor of the museum was covered with a layer of ash, in which their footsteps left deep but silent traces.
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.