Poetry Shelf noticeboard: Anna Jackson reviews Bill Manhire’s Wow at ANZL

This is my equal favourite review of the year (along with Selina Tusitala Marsh’s review of Tusiata Avia’s The Savage Coloniser Book – also at ANZL site).

Here is a taster of Anna Jackson’s review of Wow (VUP:

This is a collection full of birds and full of song. It opens with a ballad telling the story of the huia – ‘I was the first of birds to sing / I sang to signal rain / the one I loved was singing / and singing once again’ – and the last section of the collection ends with a poem almost in prose, ‘After Surgery,’ in which ‘A small bird flies out of the body, out of a blink perhaps, / maybe out of the lungs.’ This poem is followed by the final poem in the collection, ‘Little Prayers (15 March 2019)’, which is both a lament and a hymn, and a kind of a round, in which the closing line is also the opening line. A boy and girl sing, terribly, in another poem in the collection; in another, a robot, who also has a narrative function, makes music from deep within its machinery (and poetry out of typos); omens and similes sing together in another.

Bill Manhire’s poetry is always lyrical whether the lyricism is the lyricism of the ballad or the lyricism he finds in ordinary, unmetred New Zealand conversational speech. Sometimes it seems as if you can hear a poem tuning up, finding its rhythm before it turns itself into song. As it lifts into song, it lifts, too, into meaning.

Full review here.

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