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Archive for March, 2012

Review: The Same As Yes by Joan Fleming

The Same As Yes by Joan Fleming (Victoria University Press, 2012)

Reviewed by Lindsay Pope

This slender book of poems is Joan Fleming’s first. The layered effect of Denise Nestor’s cover image signals that there is not a singular viewpoint from which to visualize the world. There are layers. It is an appropriate and portentous indicator of the enclosed work.
All of the poems in each of the three sections, Blue as the Eyes of her Mother, He and She and A Mirror and the First Face, are conversations written in a prose poem format. All are brief. One contains three sentences and none stretch beyond a page. Read more »

The Art of Translation

Writers and Readers 2012
The Art of Translation: Jenny Erpenbeck, Michael Hulse, Karen Leeder, Marco Sonzogni

Reviewed by Bill Nelson

Jenny Erpenbeck Image Credit: K. Behling

At one point Marco Sonzogni waives a question away and responds to Michael Hulse’s answer to a previous question. Hulse said that translating something like a legal document can be taught, but translating literature is a different beast altogether, inherently unteachable. You can almost see the hairs on Sonzogni’s neck prick up. He rises to what he sees as a challenge, valiantly defending the art of translation. He mentioned earlier that he continually battles the notion that translation isn’t a real academic pursuit, even from his colleagues at Victoria University.

His view is that it can be taught and that a translator is like a ‘musical instrument’ who’s job it is to play the melody of the original text as best they can. It was a stirring argument and met with murmurs of approval. Translation is writing after all, he says, and reading and writing can be taught.
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Review: This City by Jennifer Compton

This City
By Jennifer Compton (Otago University Press, 2012)
Reviewed by Lindsay Pope

This is a handsome book, a strong handsome book. Within the warmth of its hardback covers a body of poetry rests inviting the intrepid reader to explore cities that have accommodated the poet and triggered her imagination.

While the book has three geographical divisions, in Italy, In New Zealand and In Australia, Compton’s inquiries transcend borders. She does not opt, like Cavafy, to “find another city better than this one.” She declines to “moulder”. Rather her preoccupations are to record the experiences and observe the people and spaces she occupies with a sensitive, honest resolve.
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Review: Birds of Clay by Aleksandra Lane

Birds of Clay
By Aleksandra Lane Published (Victoria University Press, 2012)
Reviewed by Lindsay Pope

Aleksandra Lane’s first book of poetry in English, Birds of Clay, is captivating and startling, both in its production and content.

The cover painting by Andy Leleisi’uao, Oacarus Part I, portends a narrative that is fragmented, dynamic, complex and abundant with metaphor, human endeavour and symbolism. After a brief introductory sequence of five poems there are seven self-contained sections that echo ideas and themes that bind each to the authoritative spine of the book.
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Germaine Greer: Shakespeare’s Wife

Writers and Readers 2012
Germaine Greer: Shakespeare’s Wife

Reviewed by Sarah Lang

I spied Germaine Greer on my way to this session, waiting for the green man to flash before crossing the road. Surrounded by a posse of acolytes, the famed feminist was saying something about a disappointed, neurotic woman, and I wondered if she was talking about Shakespeare’s wife, the name of her 2007 book and the topic of this session.

I have to admit that I didn’t enjoy the book, a sort of speculative history reimagining the life of Anne Hathaway and censuring the historians who belittled her. It was too dense, too hard to get into, and after a while I gave up. But this session still beckoned, because I’m a Shakespeare fan and figured hearing rather than reading about Anne might be the best way in for me. Also, though I’d read Greer’s infamous feminist tome The Female Eunuch, I’d never heard her speak. This was my chance.

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