The Year Nothing - poems by Paul Hardacre. HeadworX Press, Wellington. Pbk. $19.95.
Paul Hardacre hails from Australia, home of many a good poet. As well as poet he is the editor / publisher of papertiger media, Australia's first publishers of poetry on CD. His work is divided up into five sections; Millennium Fetish, The Paradise Engine, Pinion, The Year Nothing and The Sky Behind your Head. His work has apppeared in many magazines in Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere. HeadworX is to be congratulated on publishing this exciting young Queensland poet. He has developed the idea of 'flow' into a sequence that allows him to dispense with sentence structure but allow the sense and meaning to come out without difficulty. Often what happens is that there is a visual aura created where the' substance' of the human being referred to, shines, and you get some intimate knowledge. This, particularly in the sequence: Hand Carved Idol from Minsk". I would love to hear these read... indeed I can see how the idea of CD Roms appealed to Hardacre. Some poems are more traditional "May's Bridge" is appealing.. finishing ".. . .chipped enamel children / breathing life like fire / laughing a fractured music / stories of sun on bone" - heard it all before? Not like that I bet. It's quite refreshing, but the longer pieces work better when Hardacre's command of language has to work harder to tie it all together. "Minotaur" is punctuated (sentence structure) but flows as if it were not. A stream of images not to be confused with a 'stream of consciousness'. There are 74 generous pages here from someone who is obviously going to make a much bigger mark on the poetry scene than he has with this excellent book.
Lazy Wind Poems - Graham Lindsay.. Auckland University Press. $21.99. Pbk
This is a very worthwhile collection from a poet who has been around for a while in New Zealand. He even lived in Dunedin, which says a lot for him. Overall Lindsay's poems are rather circumspect, following the line of where he has been, to where he may be going. Some poems, like "helpless" seem to meander along, but there's a pleasing tightness herelike many of his poems, a re-reading pays off. Obviously a man of wide experience who never seems to have forgotten anything and who can find the right image for the right experience. "Yellow Plastic Ducks" - the baby in the bath, end "...He's the only / person in my world / I'd let use my handkerchief / then put it back in my pocket" Nice, that. The baby plays a great part in Lindsay's poems. I liked "LIVE HOT NUDE GIRLS" done vertically in caps. "high heaven" is quite earthly and pulls no punches. Even with a bit of rugger thrown in. "Kick the shit! screams the red-faced man." Etc. Some poems draw themselves out into whole stories, like "the ballad of fanny grace". (Cheers Jenny). You shouldn't miss any of these. Lindsay's got the subjects, the craft, and the staying power. A really good read.
SUMMER ON THE COTE d'ZUR Alistair Paterson. HeadworX, Wellington. Pbk $19.95.
Alistair Paterson has been around since before the year dot, it seems. An experienced and eminently capable editor (Mate, Poetry New Zealand etc), he is at his best in his poetry. This book is no exception. No stranger to classical scholarship, Paterson is at his best tackling modern themes, putting a view and an interpretation on them that is novel, and sometimes striking. The publisher's forum becomes a shopping list of jargon (Paterson is no stranger to tenets of management). Finishing "Xmas drinks and networking". Being around for some time doesn't mean Paterson has grown crusty. Read "Time Share" about Auckland, for good measure. He dallies with Heloise, the Washington Zoo, and there's even a Christmas poem in there! Enough there to keep you entertained with Alistair Paterson's sparkling intellect, for more than an hour or two.
Working Voices - John O'Connor and Eric Mould. Hallard Press,
. John O'Connor's work has been around for quite some time and it is good to see more of it in this shared collection, with Eric Mould. Both complement each other splendidly. Some childhood experiences show O'Connor at his most sensitive and the craft is really honed. To have the memory and the dedication to tell is a great achievement. The failed rugby player in "A Sense of Tradition" and banished to the library to read religious texts with: "the blessed mice rucking in the ceiling". Nice turn of phrase, nice ironies, no punches pulled. The ordinary thing in life, and death, are minutely observed by O'Connor: 'When someone dies, / said her blousy / neighbour, / 'it makes you think... / there's more to / life than chips an' housie' There's just so much more here. Eric Mould is an award-winning Haiku exponent who is at home with any genre. Of the same faith, evidently, Eric Mould goes into some childhood memories too. He is just as deft, interesting and full of surprises. Writing about the everyday things, work, environment, education - there is nothing overly 'literary' here that is of the sort that you kick yourself for not understanding. The Freezing Works, The Dog Trials - everything that is inexorably Kiwi. And the irony of the real estate moguls "discovering / the / two- / dimensionality / of / a / $50 / note". And how things change "they've filled in the cattle stop... / the one that always clattered and clanged" And as always, the Haiku: "hailstone meltwater / cool on my pulse" Here you get two for the price of one. Don't miss out.
EVIL - 2003 OUSA-Critic Literary Yearbook. Critical Publications Ltd, Box 1436, Dunedin NZ.
Missing a year (2001) OU Review is in its third century. It began (from memory, although I wasn't there then) in 1869. Editors who cut their youthful teeth on this review have gone on to higher recognition. So they should have. They have mainly done a good quality job. His issue is called "Evil", and so it should be in this .clay and age. It includes 'Love Song to the Vice Chancellor' with its roistering last line, "When you cum you will scream about surpluses". I won't say who wrote that. Vengeance could be swift. With a line like that maybe he/she will number amongst New Zealand's greatest. Here is even more evil. Managing human material excess in poetic form isn't easy for a student brought up studying Emily Bronte in the English Department. Make it new, or as Nick Ascroft says in 'An Ad for an Ad', "Buy two pairs of Nikes -free prize. Soak you feet in a footbath of sweet blood-brown Coca Cola" Bongo Shortage's story (what a lovely name!), 'An Unbearable likeness to Tygers' is gruesomely, on a modern platter - acceptable. Arthur Meek's piece isn't to be underrated, either. Stuff with a plot in these modern times needs a special effort to write. A good read if you can get a copy. Order direct.
How to Occupy Ourselves. David Howard. Fiona Pardington, photographs. HeadworX Press.
The poems are good - but the photographs of Fiona Pardington stand well on their own. Very sensitive, particular, interesting. Howard knows how to sustain a long poem, sometimes a difficult art. 'There you Go' is a good work even if apparently loosely structured. A stream of memories and the images associated with them. There is stuff here about Socrates, hemlock, Hitler and being 'thumbs up'. Not altogether convincing but all adding to the flavour. Howard's tone is, overall, very serious - any twists and turns are concealed very carefully. Without going into detail as to what the poems are 'about' (do they have to be about anything these days?), there is unity in all of the poems if you care to look. I couldn't see any cliches although neither did I see any really memorable lines. This poetry is scholarly and very elegant. Howard is a master of his craft.
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