Monday, December 22, 2008

I want more sugar

Are you looking for more zing in poetry? James McNaughton's I Want More Sugar kicks off with a parody of Eliot's The Wasteland. I'm tempted to call the parody 'hyper caffeinated' but it's very controlled and not at all shaky or speeding. It does zing, though, and you wonder what kind of manic ride you're in for in the book.

Here's Proverbs from Down Under (courtesy of Scoop):

What's remarkable about this book is McNaughton's sense of pace or speed. The opening two sections seems a little manic as we take in late late capitalism gobbling the world. This is contrasted by a very still tranquil third section composed of the long poem 'Colours' in which the poet, in flight, reflects on a dive he has taken in the Maldives (and the properties of colour and light) . It's a great poem that captures the unreal quality of flying we're moving so fast but time seems so slow and we don't appear to move. The final fourth section opens with the poem 'Face': this is one of my favourite poems of the year which should be a strong contender for inclusion in the Best New Zealand Poems 2008 when that comes online next year. What I like about McNaughton's work is that it doesn't just focus on the domestic, or the personal, but addresses larger concerns in a sometimes exuberant fashion without being heavy handed. The personal and the domestic are always at hand and the book abounds with powerful images:

The sun opens its palms

and a fleet of black ships
is launched on Wellington's sundials.

On the subject of Best New Zealand Poems, I'm glad that Angela Andrews' poem The Wedding Present has been chosen for the 2007 selection. I reviewed Angela's book Echolocation early this year for A Fine Line and thoroughly enjoyed the book.

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