Weekend Herald - Canvas


- — Reviewed by Siobhan Harvey

THE GRIEF ALMANAC: A SEQUEL by Vana Manasiadis (Seraph Press, $30)

How does one process the loss of a parent? The complex answer to this question is starting point, inspiratio­n and subject matter for Greek New Zealand poet Vana Manasiadis’ bold bricolage of a book, The Grief Almanac: A Sequel. The result is a work that examines the nature of grief found in memory, mothering, building, travel and myth. A diverse array of form arises including the elegy, ekphrasis and essay. Our relationsh­ips with our parents aren’t always easy; part-poetry collection, part-memoir, Manasiadis’ second collection turns the complexiti­es of loss and relationsh­ips into a brave act of storytelli­ng.

CONTENTS UNDER PRESSURE by Gail Ingram (Pukeko Publicatio­ns, $25)

Here is another mixed-form collection. Blending poetry, flash fiction, collage and graffiti-style concrete poetry, this book bravely explores a family’s experience­s of mental health and drug issues in the wake of 2011 Christchur­ch earthquake. Separation of colours, The Hillmorton hospital bed knows, the titular poem and Definition: mother/ graffiti/ artist here is a book at once poetic, creative, defiant and political, its tale stunningly realised.

TO THE OCCUPANT by Emma Neale (Otago University Press, $28)

“A body, such a ponderous thing/ to drag along a life in/ this coffinfat cabinet/ the mind-candle” — so begins Neale’s strong sixth collection. Body and mind, their experience­s and imaginings, their limits and expanses sit at the heart of the poems which follow, structured as they are into three sections: the imaginativ­e

A Room that Holds the Sea; the natureinfu­sed So Sang a Little Clod of Clay and the poetic, epistolary Selected Letters. Top offerings like Dark Glass and Turn illustrate how Neale’s lyricism, strong storytelli­ng and perceptive slant on human nature is everywhere evident in this superb book.

CONVENTION­AL WEAPONS by Tracey Slaughter (Victoria University Press, $25)

The first collection by award-winning poet and fiction author Slaughter shows her pushing the boundaries in the realms of poetry and subject. The work is raw with emotion, truth-telling and charting human existence. Standouts include the impression­istic epic it was the 70s when me & Karen Carpenter hung out, which navigates the narrator’s teenage triumphs and dysfunctio­ns alongside an imagined friendship with the titular pop icon. Elsewhere the double-standards of sexual mores are explored in prose poems like a woman walks into a bar and breather. Convention­al Weapons proves Slaughter a sharp observer of life’s beauty and depravity.

TUNING WORDSWORTH’S PIANO by Jane Simpson (Interactiv­e Press, $27)

Simpson’s second collection is a series of skillfully formed poems navigating the story of a cyclist’s journey to locate a famed, reclusive writer’s bach. What results, particular­ly in potent poems like The language for forests and The Weight of Clothes is a discovery of geography, self and imaginatio­n as much as the location of the mysterious icon’s abode. It’s the surprising detours taken — into a gay marriage heralded by the solar system, for instance, the unearthing of ancient goddess religions and a stop-off at Foveaux Strait — where this collection is most creative and impressive.

 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand