Poetry Shelf review: Therese Lloyd’s The Facts

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Therese Lloyd  The Facts Victoria University Press 2018

 

For three months I tried

to make sense of something.

I applied various methods:

logic, illogic, meditation, physical exertion,

starvation, gluttony. Other things too

that are not necessarily the opposite of one another,

writing and reading for example.

But the absurdity of the thing

made all attempt at fact-finding evaporate;

a sort of invisible ink streamed from my pen

the more data I wrote down: facts are things driven,

as Anne Carson says, into a darkening landscape where other people

converse logically.

from ‘The Facts’

 

Therese Lloyd’s new collection resides in a captivating interplay of chords. You could say that any poetry book delivers chords whether aural, visual or thematic, and in the light of ideas and feelings. This book does it to a stunning degree. Once you start hunting for them – whether in harmony or not, between poems or within a single example – the rewards are myriad.

Hera Lindsay Bird endorses the book on the back cover: ‘The Facts is mesmerisingly beautiful, and shocking in its intensity. This is already one of my favourite New Zealand books. It won’t make you feel better.’

I didn’t read the back until I had read the poems as I like to start a book with a clean reading slate (if that is possible).  I am thinking of the way reading this book sets up an arc between comfort and discomfort; we are the interlopers into what Therese chooses to let us see.

We enter a collection in debt to a doctoral thesis (IIML), and I am curious about the ideas picked up in the academic component.

This might be the first cluster of chords: shifts between ideas and feelings provoked by the writings of poet Anne Carson and the experience of a broken marriage and a toxic love affair.  This might be an impetus to navigate relations with art, in itself forging a chord with Anne.

I am absorbing the chords as though they flicker between light and dark – and the poem resembles a cinematic space with the external world, and its pressing demands, blacked out so it is just you and the poem. This what flicks for me:

love notlove

truth lies

Carson LLoyd

facts notfacts

pain joy

mother daughter

daughter husband

daughter lover

presence absence

beginning end

end beginning

beauty beauty

deep breath shallow breath

here there

intimacy distance

heart mind

sweet sour

slow stalling

debris order

miracle incidental

share notshare

exposure kept hidden

where you live where you don’t live

mixed clarity

see see

poet poem

poem story

 

At the core of the book the title poem, the standout-lift-you-off-your-feet poem, achieves the blinding intensity that Hera speaks of: raw, surprising, probing, accumulative, fearless, cutting, detail rich, lucid, testing. On either side the poems offer more subtle chords. Yet any element in my list for ‘The Facts’ might drive a poem. I particularly love the surprising turns of ‘Mr Anne Carson’.

Therese’s collection takes you deep into personal experience that gets hooked up in the poetry of another, in matted ideas and the need to write as a form of survival. It makes you feel as much as it makes you think. It is a riveting read.

 

 

I moved all the holiday reading

to the spare room

to keep the literature and the art books

pure

I say squarely in the middle

of the fluffed-up sunroom sofa, I am

careful

not to disturb the cushions

cushion—a curious word

its function of support

is ancillary to its attractiveness

and that’s why cushions have covers

in colourful fabric—I become

an ornament

another word I like

because everything here is decoration

everything here is placed

The story of the things here is not new

 

from ‘Mr Anne Carson’

 

Victoria University Press page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One thought on “Poetry Shelf review: Therese Lloyd’s The Facts

  1. Pingback: Pip Adam talks scintillating poetry with Jesse Mulligan | NZ Poetry Shelf

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