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The wisdom of things, Anna Smaill

The Yield
Sue Wootton
Otago University Press, $25.00,
ISBN 9780947522483

The Internet of Things
Kate Camp
Victoria University Press, $25.00,
ISBN 9781776561063

There is beauty to be had in yielding, Sue Wootton’s collection suggests, both to the natural world and to language. The collection’s title comes from its final poem, a quiet ode to an apple tree. Resurrected from its first life as a “dehydrated sapling”, the tree has thrived against the odds. Evidence of its battle remains in its posture; the sapling has developed

a lean, the whole tree on an angle,
as if surrendering in deference
to persistent pressure, as if leaned
upon,
giving in or giving up to what
prevails

 

The poem ultimately suggests that, rather than resignation, the tree’s lean is a mode of enabling sacrifice: it “let[s] go” in order to “put out arms, become a fruitful crux”. In conserving its energy the tree enables a different kind of yield – the crop of “yellow apples, blushed, /…Tart and crisp, delicious.”

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Posted in Literature, Poetry and Review

Whose pain? Sarah Ross

Strip
Sue Wootton
Mākaro, $40.00,
ISBN 9780994123756

To spend the duration of Sue Wootton’s Strip in the presence of her protagonist, Dr Harvey Wright, is not an entirely comfortable experience. Harvey is a community GP who is dissatisfied in an unspectacular kind of way – a little ground down by the reality of keeping up a practice, a little paunchy, in a marriage grappling with unsuccessful IVF – when he becomes, in the novel’s opening page, a cartoonist. The medical magazine Health Matters takes on his Dr Doctor strip, a monthly funny of a Dad-joke kind, and it is for Harvey as if “a window had cracked open a tad and a puff of fresh air blown in”. Into his baggily comfortable existence, his new identity as a cartoonist injects a “flower-burst of elation”.

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Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review

Movement is all, Paula Green

Magnetic South   Sue Wootton Steele Roberts, $24.99, ISBN 9781877448232 Spark   Emma Neale Steele Roberts, $24.99, ISBN 9781877448195 The Propaganda Poster Girl   Amy Brown Victoria University Press, $25.00, ISBN 9780864735744 The World’s Fastest Flower   Charlotte Simmonds Victoria

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Posted in Literature and Poetry

Palate cleansers, Paola Bilbrough

The Violinist in Spring Anna Smaill Victoria University Press, $24.95, ISBN 08647350222 Hourglass Sue Wootton Steele Roberts, $19.95, ISBN 187733877X The Devil in My Shoes Phil Kawana Auckland University Press, $21.99, ISBN 1869403525 Poetry is an elastic genre; there are

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Posted in Literature, Poetry and Review
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