The Lonely Nude
by Emily Dobson (Victoria University Press, $25)
Reviewed by Vaughan Rapatahana
This is a somewhat eclectic and often uneven second collection from a Hawkes bay-based poet: a mixture of poems that ‘work’ and a few that do not quite ‘hit the spot’, so to speak.
At her best, Dobson writes with an economical and elliptical panache, a honed skillsaw craftswomanship that quite delights. Take for example the poem “Like biting into stones, like rough sheets” – here in its entirety:
Like biting into stones, like rough sheets
I did not wash the spinach,
so the spinach was gritty.
Small stones sang in our teeth.
The new blue sheet
has pilled something chronic.
And the rain – it’s
really coming down,
after so long.
You, the sound of water,
in the other room –
a passing whistle.
There is a koan-ish, William Carlos Williams ambience to such work: the words and images hint at something more and never overstep the poetic mark. Dobson here also spreads her poem over a double page – a technique she intermittently does elsewhere also – the final stanza has an entire spare page to itself, given that in this slim volume such second page bits are also sometimes separate ‘found’ poems.