Now to the sublime. Canterbury poet Jeffery Paparoa Holman’s Shaken Down 6.3 is lifted into another category altogether. Another Canterbury University Press publication (Holman is currently a senior adjunct fellow in Canterbury’s School of Humanities) Shaken Down is a something of a mixed bag, a lucky dip, as all poetry collections usually are. It’s quite a short collection — it’s not much thicker than a chapbook — but some poems are absolutely magical in the way they touch on the feelings and experiences of those of us who have come through the quakes, or in the way they sketch those cataclysmic events with such intense and visualising language, with the poem ‘September ’quake’ being a fine example of this:
bricks became birds
flew through roofs onto cars
landing on lawns building up terror.
ANDREW PAUL WOOD is a Christchurch-based writer, cultural critic and freelance curator. Recent work includes a translation into English of the New Zealand poems of German-Jewish poet Karl Wolfskehl, Under New Star: Poems from the New Zealand Exile (Holloway, 2012, edited by Friedrich Voit), and a psychogeography of the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes with photographer Doc Ross, Quietus: Observations of an Altered City (Analogue House, 2012).
It is disappointing that the ‘imprint off the real’ isn’t a good quality print job. The choice of inkjet for Shaken Down means the text bleeds and there are striations through most of the otherwise interesting photographs. The use of soluble ink lacks classic resilience.