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An account of trauma, Michael Hulse

Allen Curnow: Collected Poems
Elizabeth Caffin and Terry Sturm (eds)
Auckland University Press, $60.00,
ISBN 9781869408510

Allen Curnow’s poetry is a transcript of trauma. “Morning by morning incorruption / Puts on corruption”: this most fundamental of thoughts, borne in upon every one of us as the time of our lives moves from childhood to what we call understanding, and onward, is not Curnow’s alone. The experiences of mutability, transience, and destruction, are universal. “A child returned / Discerns in quicksand his own footprint / Brimming and fading, vanishing.” The evidence that whatever begins in joy, hope and openness is swept away in the indifferent whirlwind lies before us everywhere. Time with a gift of tears. 

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Consecrating Curnow, Simon During

Allen Curnow: Simply by Sailing in a New Direction
Terry Sturm (Linda Cassells (ed))
Auckland University Press, $70.00,
ISBN 9781869408527,

Allen Curnow’s first book, Valley of Decision, appeared as a “Phoenix Miscellany” under the Auckland University College Students’ Association Press imprint when he was very young, just 22. But Curnow’s abiding concerns were already in place.

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Wit and moral clarity, Hugh Roberts

Whim Wham’s New Zealand: The Best of Whim Wham 1937-1988 Terry Sturm (ed) Vintage, $34.99, ISBN 1869417577   It is by now no secret that Allen Curnow, a man with few rivals for the title of “New Zealand’s Greatest Poet”,

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A demon for work, Lydia Wevers

An Unsettled Spirit: The Life & Frontier Fiction of Edith Lyttleton (G B Lancaster)  Terry Sturm Auckland University Press, $44.95, ISBN 1869402944   I first came across G B Lancaster in the reading room of the Mitchell Library in Sydney.

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“Life in one’s mouth”, Peter Bland

Louis Johnson: Selected Poems ed Terry Sturm Victoria University Press, $29.95, ISBN 086473350X There’s a short poem by Louis Johnson which I’ve always admired. It’s called “Intemperance” and it tells us a lot in a very short space, both about

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History as editorial cunning, Vincent O’Sullivan

The Oxford History of New Zealand Literature Terry Sturm (ed), Oxford University Press, Auckland, 1991, $69.95 To take up a 750-page book about hundreds of other books one has read only a fraction of, and to persist to the end

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Posted in History, Literature, Non-fiction, Review
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