Robert Beveridge's Reviews > Cold Snack

Cold Snack by Janet Charman
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Aug 05, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: 2011-goal-list, owned-and-still-own, finished
Read from December 31, 2011 to January 04, 2012 — I own a copy , read count: 1

Janet Charman, Cold Snack (University of Auckland Press, 2007)

Over the last few years, New Zealand poet Janet Charman's book Cold Snack, almost entirely unavailable in America, took on some sort of mystic quality as it sat there in my to-be-read list waiting for me to find some way to procure a copy. I'm not sure why it did, other than simple longevity; by the time I finally found a domestic seller who had a copy and ordered it, I had long forgotten where I first heard about the book, or indeed what I first heard about it. I tried not to let the disappointment that is inevitable in such cases cloud my judgment while I was reading.

“students flood
the assembly hall
till
it's a think tank
where curved green backs
and agitated hands
navigate the exam

no one can help them

i'm a wharf post in the back
wash

hear a pin drop
in the dense wet
light of
the assessment...”
(--”invigilator”)

Like a number of other books of poetry that ended up getting reviewed in this issue, Cold Snack is comprised of poems ranging from the good to the very good, but there's never a point when I was reading this book that it blew my head off. At no time did it break out of its comfort zone and do anything exciting or unexpected. That is not necessarily a bad thing; Charman, like the other poets reviewed here, knows what she's good at, and plays that for all it's worth. You will not be let down by these poems. But you will not be shot out of a cannon, either. Good, solid, average work. ***
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