into driving rain
an old woman spits
buddhist temple -
an ant carries
feeling bored -
until i step
on a snail
letting out a fly i let in a fly
This beautifully-produced, plangent book is one of those books you want to invest in and carry around with you. The first time I read it, it sat me down, and cooled me off, and gave me heart. Months later, I read it again, and again, it worked its magic. It slowed me, it centred me, it woke me up. This is what I want poetry to do. I want poetry to remind me of who I am. Thanks Matt, for this scrupulous, humble manifestation, and to Coral Carter of Mulla Mulla Press for embodying it as a book.
The four haiku/senryu I have chosen (with some difficulty) are in their narrative order, but as the little book works like clockwork, plucking four of the cogwheels out, almost at random, isn't the best way to get at the ticking mystery.
For Instance was given a well-considered, thumbs-up review by Geoff Page, in tandem with my verse novella, Mr Clean & The Junkie. As Matt and I are such good friends (and I miss him so much since he moved up North) it gave me a great deal of pleasure when our books were yoked together.
But just let me take the chance to assert that Geoff misread my heroine. She is not - '… a young heroin-addicted prostitute.' Youngish, certainly. On the cusp of young, but seen better days. Heroin-addicted, no way. Gambling is her tipple. And prostitute? That is moot. Perhaps she is what men of a certain generation would have called 'a party girl' or a 'good-time girl.'
This posting is focussed on Matt's alchemical book, of course, but the happy accident of the tandem review gives me a window to refute a misreading that has niggled at me for a bit.
A later review by Elizabeth Morton repeated this error, and I began to feel as if I had omitted to include a piece of crucial explication, but when I communicated with Liz, she told me she had read Geoff's review before she wrote hers, and maybe she had picked up on his misapprehension. And so it goes. Anyway, anyway, I am thrilled to report that Mr Clean & The Junkie has been long-listed for the Ockham NZ Book Awards – but if the judge's report includes the words 'heroin-addicted' or 'prostitute' I will start tearing my hair out. And take to writing evermore adamantly well-delineated character parameters. I can't help but feel that it is my error.
Stylus Poetry Journal
Notes From The Gean