In the Supplementary Garden by Diana Bridge (Cold Hub Press, 2016), 192 pp., $39.95; Fish Stories by Mary Cresswell (Canterbury University Press, 2015), 132 pp., $25; Anatomize by Natasha Dennerstein (Norfolk Press, 2015), 74 pp., US$14.95
I’m not sure what the technical term is for when a poem hits you in the brain; when you read a particular phrase and your whole mind stops and goes: ‘… huh’. And it’s like the light on a square moves, and you realise it’s actually a cube. Whatever that is, Diana Bridge does it. A lot. From ‘A book of screens’:
She celebrates herself
in an arc of tea …
(Ever since I read that, each time I pour out a cup of tea, I think: I am celebrating myself.)
On Joan Fleming: Failure makes lemonade; slams one door only to shake others open – sometimes. Failure has a knack of forcing its protagonist down substitute alleyways, leaving one to navigate unorthodox routes in pitch black. Joan Fleming’s latest collection, Failed Love Poems, is about Love, but more so, it is about a lengthy, howling procession of Loves gone kaput. There is love clinging on by tooth-strings, love in absentia, love as apology, love treading on eggshells, love cemented in verse, and love that ebbs in spite of itself.
Three terrific books! Full review here but a sample from James’s section on Kerrin:
Moving from Thought Horses to Kerrin P. Sharpe’s new collection, Rabbit Rabbit,is a little like turning from Cézanne to Miro or Klee. The slow-paced meditative and long loping lines of Bush exchanged for the short, darting lines of Sharpe veering off in unexpected and at times astonishing directions.
Surrealism is difficult to pull off. You look for the mad logic of the dream to hold the piece together, otherwise the leaps seem arbitrary, gratuitous. Sharpe is a dab hand, however, having perfected her craft in two previous collections from Victoria University Press: Three Days in a Wishing Well (2012) and There’s a Medical Name for This (2014). Like Klee, she takes her line for a walk, but while it takes strange byways it is always on a (not sometimes obvious) leash. This current book gathers together another entertaining selection of rabbits pulled out of hats, although in the title poem the rabbit is put in the hat (along with the writer’s mother):
mother tamed a rabbit
in a hat she could hide in
Because this is a Kerrin Sharpe poem we can safely assume the rabbit is not a rabbit and the hat is not a hat, although the mother is almost certainly a particular mother.