Blog Archives

Shivers of emotion, Tom McLean

Dan Davin: A Field Officer’s Notebook: Selected Poems
Robert McLean (ed)
Cold Hub Press, $30.00,
ISBN 9780473430689

Robert McLean here presents an edited selection of Dan Davin’s poetry, collecting a body of verse seen as having value in itself rather than attempting a scholarly edition or detailed exegesis. A brief contextualising introduction emphasises the influence of WWII on Davin.

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Posted in Literature, Poetry, Review

Yearning and erasure, John Horrocks

He’s so MASC
Chris Tse
Auckland University Press, $30.00,
ISBN 1781869408879

The Facts
Therese Lloyd
Victoria University Press, $25.00,
ISBN 9781776561810

Dark Days at the Oxygen Café
James Norcliffe
Victoria University Press, $25.00,
ISBN 9781776560837

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Posted in Literature, Poetry, Review

Keith Westwater – Poem

To Avis Elaine The flowers you loved strew the shores of my first seven years Sometimes, in flower shops they shout out their names gerbera gladioli iris Sometimes they sing to me from a bouquet only half-made peonies pansies sweet

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Posted in Literature, Poetry

Making Art in words and paint

Grahame Sydney, artist, recalls a significant book.

It lay beside my bed through most of my teenaged years, one of two constant companions of my privately turbulent adolescence. The other was Robert Henri’s The Art Spirit, and both paperbacks grew imperceptibly more battered with miles and years, finally so fragile in their sellotaped bandaging that pages worked free of their spinal gum. They were the only two books I took with me on my melancholy odyssey to England, dreaming of artistic stardom in early 1973, and I have them both still.

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Posted in Imprints

Responsible writing

Writer Fleur Beale considers what’s difficult and desirable in books for YA readers.

The answer to the question of what responsibility writers may or may not have to their teenage readers in essence for me is to write a damn good, emotionally true story. Part of the difficulty of pinning it more precisely lies in the fact that a teenage audience includes such a wide spectrum of maturity and experience that a book resonating with one reader might be something a different reader would not even consider looking at. 

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Posted in Comment

Thoughts well-wrought, Damian Love

View from the South
Owen Marshall (Grahame Sydney photographer)
Vintage, $40.00, ISBN 9780143771845

It often seems to be the case that novelists, when they turn to verse, move with a more relaxed gait, a less self-conscious regard, than those whose passport to the Republic of Letters declares them to be Poets. I am glad that Owen Marshall is not a Poet. This happy circumstance leaves him free to write poetry. There is no straining for originality in his verse, no exhibitionist sensitivity, just a quiet confidence in the value of well-wrought thought.

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Posted in Literature, Poetry, Review

Almost too true, Aleksia Drain

Lyla
Fleur Beale
Allen and Unwin, $19.00,
ISBN 9781760113780 

Lyla is a book written in raw truth. The story begins in a world of homework and the normal everyday life of a young schoolgirl named Lyla. She attends Avonside Girls’ High School and lives happily in the city of Christchurch. But then disaster strikes: an earthquake shakes the lives of every Christchurch citizen, turning us upside down into chaos. This book reveals the truth of the February Christchurch earthquake, the loss people faced, and the terrible things we saw. It brings a reader out of their world of media and newspapers and reveals the personal terrors one faced in that horrific time. 

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Posted in Literature, Review, Young adults

Girls galloping horses: unstable identities, Amy Brown

Rainfall
Ella West
Allen and Unwin, $19.00, ISBN 9781760296834

Showtym Adventures: Casper, the Spirited Arabian
Kelly Wilson
Puffin, $15.00, ISBN 9780143772248

Do You Want to Gallop with Me?
Sophie Siers (Judith Trevelyan illus)
Millwood Press, $20.00, ISBN 9780473408541

The Gift Horse
Sophie Siers (Katharine White illus)
Millwood Press, $20.00, ISBN 9780473408558

Since I learned to read, I’ve read about horses and riders. Did I love horses because of the books I read, or did I read the books because their covers were stable doors? What does it mean to read about a female child desiring and caring for a horse? Answering these questions has felt like psychoanalysis; a girl galloping a horse should be a Jungian archetype – and I have been that girl.

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Posted in Children, Literature, Review

Life and death before 20, Angelina Sbroma

Catch Me When You Fall
Eileen Merriman
Penguin, $20.00,
ISBN 9780143770930

Ash Arising
Mandy Hager
Penguin, $20.00,
ISBN 9780143772439

Eileen Merriman’s Catch Me When You Fall – a title that provokes a head-tilt to begin with and that takes multiple possible meanings upon reading the book – is narrated by 17-year-old Alex Byrd, and it tells the story of a particular autumn (or fall, as they would say in America) in her life.

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Posted in Literature, Review, Young adults

Fathoms deep, James Robins

The New Ships
Kate Duignan
Victoria University Press, $30.00,
ISBN 9781776561889

It’s a deeply distressing thing to find the word “bugger” on the first page of a New Zealand writer’s novel. Rather like opening some French fiction to discover “sacré bleu!” taunting you. The instant, visceral fear is of cliché and kitsch, that grating Kiwi patois so maladapted to literature. Or, worse, calling to mind that old television ad of the grimy sheepdog grunting the word from the back of a ute.

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Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review
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