Nouns, Verbs, Etc: Selected poems by Fiona Farrell (Otago University Press, 2020), 211pp, $35
Fiona Farrell is one of those enviable writers equally adept at fiction, non-fiction and poetry, not to mention plays. She is perhaps best known for The Skinny Louie Book and, more recently, for The Quake Year and The Villa at the Edge of the Empire: One hundred ways to read a city, but her three intermittent poetry collections have also been eagerly awaited and read.
Selections from these three volumes—Cutting Out (1987), The Inhabited Initial (1999) and The Pop-Up Book of Invasions (2007)—plus poems from the essay collection The Broken Book (2011) are represented here in chronological order. Interspersed between these is a generous helping of uncollected poems, not arranged chronologically but, as Farrell says in her Preface, ‘loosely as they seemed to echo one another or share a common theme’. The result disrupts any attempt at an overly chronological or ‘developmental’ reading of the work. The poems are bracketed by the evocative Preface and by a series of fascinating Notes (some of which have already appeared with the separate volumes). It is an impressive ensemble: engaging, inventive, sometimes playful, always compelling. [Read more…]