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Poem — Bill Sewell

Interactive   Virtually alive stare through the terminal screen instead of the window. Clouds and light the water slopping about the harbour do not move with the speed or anything like the obedience of electronic impulses. A dance of fingers…
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Posted in Poem

Travelling through fiction, Charles Ferrall

The Good Tourist and the Laughing Cadaver Michael Gifkins (ed) Vintage, 1993, $24.95   Visiting a library in Timbuktu, an actual town in the central west African country of Mali, the Australian writer Murray Bail is told by an Islamic…
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Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review

Bombasts and Jinglists, Mark Williams

The New Place; The Poetry of Settlement in New Zealand, 1852-1914 Harvey McQueen, Victoria University Press, $29.95   New Zealand poetry begins with Ursula Bethell. Before her there were scribblers, versifiers, poetasters, bombasts, jinglists and hobbyists, but there were no…
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Posted in Literature, Poetry

Writing and revenge, Colleen Reilly

A Distraction of Opposites Sandra Arnold, Hazard Press, Christchurch, $24.95   The front cover illustration of A Distraction of Opposites is a painting by Heather Busch entitled ‘Look at the Pattern.’ At first glance, what you see is ordinary objects…
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Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review

Poetic Grammars, Mary Paul

How to Talk Andrew Johnston, Victoria University Press, $19.95 Piki Ake! Robert Sullivan, Auckland University Press, $19.95   I was given these two books to review with the instruction that I should look at them in the wider context of…
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Posted in Literature, Poetry, Review

Gee Whizz, Elizabeth Smither

Going West Maurice Gee, Viking, 1992, $39.95 Rem tene, verba sequentur – I have it, like an archivist, on a filched catalogue card. For the novel: ‘Grasp the subject and the words will follow’. For the poem, the reverse: Verba…
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Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review

The Persistence of Talent: the Poetry of Brian Turner, Vincent O’Sullivan

Even five years ago, it would have seemed impossible that Brian Turner should win the country’s premier award for poetry. Not that anyone said anything much against his verse. But there was the quiet assumption that he worked his own…
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Posted in Literature, Poetry, Review

Honest words and honest deeds, Mary Roberts

Capes of China Slide Away James Bertram, Auckland University Press, $39.95   James Bertram spent ten years of his long life in Asia. Those years prompt the use of Auden’s quotation as the title of his book and occupy over…
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Posted in Autobiography, Non-fiction, Review

Ruminative chin music, David Eggleton

Auto/Biographies Kendrick Smithyman, Auckland University Press, $19.95   This is Kendrick Smithyman’s twelfth book of poetry. It continues and restates the themes of his recent collections, Stories About Wooden Keyboards and Are you Going to the Pictures? to the point…
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Posted in Literature, Poetry

Serving up the ancestors, Harry Ricketts

One of Ben’s Maurice Shadbolt, David Ling Publishing, $44.95 Halfway Round the Harbour Keith Sinclair, Penguin, $29.95   This here biography and ‘reminiscence’ business … is a bit too near the ‘Higher Cannibalism’ to please me. Ancestor-worship is all right…
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Posted in Autobiography, Non-fiction
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