Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Animal Crackers

Our Own Kind: 100 New Zealand Poems About Animals edited by Siobahn Harvey (Godwit 2009)

Another new theme anthology is out - this time the poems are about animals, and that's a rich theme for Janet Frame, who was a brilliant observer of the natural world and animal behaviour as well as of the human condition.

There are three Frame poems in this selection, which also draws on the work of many other prominent New Zealand poets.

I quite like subject-theme anthologies, and for me the book made great reading, especially if I didn't know the poem, and again if I did know it well. There's a useful mix of both.

My reading pleasure included happy recognition of Fleur Adcock's classic line "I am your mother,/and we are kind to snails" and discovering a delightful new favourite from Mark Pirie's 'Sheepish Love':"I love ewe"!

However I had to wonder about the decision to include an over-generous representation of black and white photographs all by one artist, very nice in themselves but the lack of high quality reproduction didn't do the series justice, and many of the photographs seemed a quite arbitrary addition to this particular text. Cute photo on the back cover though, of a dancing spotty tabby!

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