To be a poet one needs the six P’s – the pencil, the paper, the perception, the passion, the persistence and the unshakable persuasion that the poem is in fact possible and attainable. - Grace Perry

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Feather in My Hair - Review



Heather Murray Tobias situates her poems, in the collection 'A Feather in My Hair', within specific places. Below each poem in this collection the place and date that the poem was produced is stated. This is not a technique I’ve previously seen in a poetry collection, but I thoroughly enjoyed. In my honours thesis this year I have been exploring how representations of place are constructed in contemporary poetry. It is clear that place is important to Tobias.

The book begins with the poem 'Rosellas Feeding on Birch Catkins'. This poem captures the colour and movement of royal blue and crimson rosellas feeding, overbalancing and hanging upside down from a branch in Upwey. The imagery and language in this poem is simple, which I believe allows Tobias to exaggerate the naturalness of the scene described and gives the reader a sense of immediacy, allowing the reader to enter into the scene presented.

'White-Faced Heron' is an amusing poem. The bird here is a threat to the speaker's favourite fish, as the bird stands over the garden pond. I enjoyed the stillness of the bird and how it was not concerned about the speaker's wagging finger.

I like the rush of the cuckoo-shrike at the end of 'In 1993'.

In the poem 'Predators' there is a lovely ripple of movement, exaggerated by the short lines and the alliteration and repetition of 'swoop and swerve'.

'A Magpie Child' captures an intimate scene of a magpie chick sunbaking and hunting for christmas beetles. This poem captures a wonderful attention for detail as the speaker celebrates the naturalness of a magpie chick just being:
    Today I watched a magpie child
    sun-baking near the hakea's bole;
    ten moments passed then some more -
    I sat and watched, engrossed, enthralled...

Samples of Tobias' work and a brief bio can be found here.