the moon’s reflected path on water
leads only to the moon
from ‘Island time’ Friday Prayers Cold Hub Press, 2019
For some poets poetry is a form of contemplation – a bridge to the unreachable sublime, a way of achieving inner equilibrium, even stillness amidst the arrival of words – regardless of the boundaries you push, regardless of pressing issues or wayward circumstances. Writing and reading poetry can be rewardingly untethered – a way to activate cells, to follow trails with only the haziest of maps.
For some of us poetry is something as both readers and writers we cannot do without. For me poetry is my anchor, my flotation device, my equilibrium.
This year has produced a glorious crop of poetry published in Aotearoa, some of which has been reviewed elsewhere and some which has not. I have over 30 books on my shelf I am dead keen to share over summer.
I have picked out Tony Beyer’s Friday Prayers and the chapbook fills me with joy. Everything washes to the side and I am there with the words on the page, the trails and bridges that lead beyond the font and white paper to how we live our lives, how we absorb the world.
This is a human-rich view: there’s a ghost city under Christchurch, the possibility of wisdom, broken buildings, daily chores, the chives planted, sheets on the line, a poem wending its mysterious way into being.
This is a human-rich view: ‘Crusade’ replays a rugby game with breathless momentum until full time. The final kick though is the polemical question for the pack of gladiators and supporters. How far does our respect and empathy go when it comes to the currency of a word?
so is Sam Whitelock
taking it on the chin
threatened with losing their name
did it proud
The collection’s title poem, ‘Friday prayers’, is a response to the Christchurch massacre – it opens its arms wide. Its explicit call to how we proceed underlines how little bad behaviours born out of indifference or ignorance count and are ‘not small’. The last page makes me weep.
I know I
and those I love
living and dead
have done these things
and it must cease
children in my classroom
the before and after
feasts of Eid
and wrote stories about them
the blood on the mosque floor
is human blood
like that of Christ
or of countless
everything we love
our children’s faces
and their children’s
gone in a gunshot
Tony’s book moves in multiple directions, traversing everyday experience with both heart and insight while facing catastrophic events both politically and personally. The overall effect is one of sublime fluency. I read this book and I am tipped into a state of profound contemplation and I am glad of it. Thank you.
Cold Hub Press author page
Tony’s previous collection Anchor Stone was a finalist in the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards for Poetry (Cold Hub Press 2018). He lives in Taranaki.