Poetry Shelf review – From the Henderson House: eight poems by Jenny Bornholdt and Gregory O’Brien

 

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From the Henderson House: eight poems is an exquisite chapbook penned by Jenny Bornholdt and Gregory O’Brien. The first 18 copies feature a cover design lovingly handprinted by Brendan O’Brien on an Merlarue etching press at the Henderson House in Alexandria. The remaining 40 copies feature covers designed and printed by Brendan at Fernbank Studios in Wellington.

The eight poems were written while Jenny and Gregory enjoyed a year-long artists’ residency thanks to the Henderson House Trust. Each double page is like a set of open palms – with Jenny’s poem on one side and Gregory’s poem on the other. A loving couple. Here are the titles:

 

Old Prayer

On drinking water

About

Autumn, Alexandria

Fog

Styx Crossing, Upper Taieri

En plein air

Two burning cars, one afternoon

 

The poems rise from contemplation, from lengthy time in a place of beauty, from the small but fascinating detail. To read the poems is to absorb place; to delight in the ability of poetry to transport you physically to the uplift of elsewhere. Yet the poems also transport you along rebounding ideas, particularly along the verb ‘to be’. These are poems that speak of existence.

As I read I am thinking of a slow poetry movement (in keeping with the slow food movement) and that slowness extends to reader as well as writer. I travel from hawk to water to trees to autumn to fog to river to horse to burning car. I am taking my time and it is so very nourishing.

 

 

About

 

Trees lose their content

to the river.

Down it comes to us

story borne by currents

all the weird logics

loose upon the water.

 

Jenny Bornholdt

 

 

 

Autumn, Alexandria

 

We were among

the unkempt arrivals, undecided

and somewhat

star-shaped, mid-air. Leaves

of an unaccustomed tree.

 

Gregory O’Brien

 

 

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