Interesting for the way Armitage uses assonance, various kinds of rhyme, and other sound effects. The rhythm is quite discombobulating, in a pleasantInteresting for the way Armitage uses assonance, various kinds of rhyme, and other sound effects. The rhythm is quite discombobulating, in a pleasant way, and it takes quite a bit of rereading to work out what he's doing. For the most part, though, the content of the poems was less interesting to me.
My favourite was the titular poem, which is quite different from the others.
We went out into the school yard together, me and the boy whose name and face
I don’t remember. We were testing the range of the human voice: he had to shout for all he was worth,
I had to raise an arm from across the divide to signal back that the sound had carried.
He called from over the park—I lifted an arm. Out of bounds, he yelled from the end of the road,
from the foot of the hill, from beyond the look-out post of Fretwell’s Farm— I lifted an arm.
He left town, went on to be twenty years dead with a gunshot hole in the roof of his mouth, in Western Australia.
Boy with the name and face I don’t remember, you can stop shouting now, I can still hear you. ...more
This collection from Australian poet Andrew Taylor has some absolutely brilliant poems, but as a collection of new work--including translations of anThis collection from Australian poet Andrew Taylor has some absolutely brilliant poems, but as a collection of new work--including translations of an Italian poet--by a versatile and prolific poet, it lacks a strong sense of unity. The poems range from simple, homely images of drinking a cider with a mate ('The Vanishing at Falmouth') or tripping over a cat (The Picture of Little T.H.) to spare yet incredibly evocative pieces like 'Night by Night', 'Driving to the Airport' and 'The Unhaunting'. Will have to track down his Collected Poems.
Here's one of my favourites, so simple and yet--
When a cliff collapses its new face faces the light
an ancient unsuspected fault is revealed and the new face faces the light
the light's not kind and the face can't turn anywhere but to the light
that's how cliffs are built by collapse by facing the light...more
A mixture of free verse and haiku, Ocean Hearted is a cohesive collection of direct, honest poems from Brisbane poet Graham Nunn. I loved the referencA mixture of free verse and haiku, Ocean Hearted is a cohesive collection of direct, honest poems from Brisbane poet Graham Nunn. I loved the references to a Brisbane I know. More and more books, films, songs, and poems are finding Brisbane (and surrounds) a natural setting, but Nunn clearly also sees it as a city ripe for mythologising. As he writes in the opening lines of the opening poem, 'Grounded':
Coming back, the land didn't know him. Not the soft air, peaks and skittering leaves or blurred faces rising out of the fog along Kingsford-Smith Drive, not the river haze of the city opening into his eyes through trickle of morning sun or the aging pier at Breakfast Creek he half-imagined had been built for him--
the land under his feet and brooding in shadows cast by the sheer rise of the city had forgotten him. The odour of the river drummed into shifting rock was familiar, but wafted the frail taint of foreign ghosts.
The poem is one of alienation from home, but the displacement initiates a deepening sense of place, of a landscape that "folds in on itself" until the city becomes a place in which haiku grow naturally from the cracks.
end of summer choosing between two bruised mangoes
in love again the kettle boiled dry
new moon-- the eyes of a mullet picked clean
Mangoes, mosquitoes, geckos, summer rain, cigarettes, affairs, the sound of Radiohead and the Go-Betweens, jetties, the River, Li Po in his drunken boat, the whales of the Pacific Ocean--Nunn conjures up a city that is perhaps not yet, but is becoming, ocean hearted.
The glint of baitfish massing to spawn flashes like rifle fire in the water....more
What I love most about this book, other than the fabulous characters and beautiful prose, is the way it optimistically embraces change and yet at theWhat I love most about this book, other than the fabulous characters and beautiful prose, is the way it optimistically embraces change and yet at the same time is sad for what is lost. It also really nails the experience of encountering powerful technology for the first time, in a way that very few books do. It's not a flawless novel, but it's a beautiful one....more
I wanted to like this more. It's a lot of fun--let's face it, how can steampunk pirates, zombies, and zeppelins not be?--but it came highly recommendeI wanted to like this more. It's a lot of fun--let's face it, how can steampunk pirates, zombies, and zeppelins not be?--but it came highly recommended from people whose taste I respect and I was expecting a bit more depth from it. I did recommend it myself for a bookclub, and it has won and been nominated for a bunch of awards, including this year's Hugo. But... I was never sure if this was Zeke's story or his mother's, and the Dickensian grimness of the setting doesn't have the impact on the characters that it seems it should. In the end, it felt a little bit... Disney. Not that there's anything wrong with that, I hasten to add--Pirates of the Caribbean was great fun--I just didn't find the adventure as rousing or as original as everyone else. And what an odd postscript. Hmm. I kind of feel I'm beating a puppy, so I'll stop. ...more
Published in 1970, The Crocodile was the first novel written by a New Guinean. A simple, fast-paced, and surprisingly affecting story, it is set in PNPublished in 1970, The Crocodile was the first novel written by a New Guinean. A simple, fast-paced, and surprisingly affecting story, it is set in PNG in the colonial era during WWII. The book follows the life of young Hoiri as he attempts to navigate the transition to adulthood and understand the new world of the white man. Many of the other characters are stereotypical, but since we see the world through Hoiri's naive eyes it doesn't matter as much as it could. The story is essentially tragic--Hoiri fails to understand the new world, but is caught between the new and the old. There's a dreamlike feel to the story, the somnolent pull of the river that threads its way through the book. I loved the way Eri elides action--one minute Hoiri's walking through the village, then in almost the next sentence he's hiding in a tree while the Japanese bombs explode. Years pass in a single sentence. The POV is also slippery, without ever straying too far from Hoiri. The ending felt abrupt, but it will stay with me. It doesn't seem to make sense, and that's the point: the dream becomes a nightmare. I'm glad I picked this book up--the fantastic UPNG bookshop in Port Moresby is worth a visit....more