24 March 2008

Reviews Roundup

I posted a while back on the first two reviews of my poetry collection All Blacks' Kitchen Gardens. Several more reviews have now come in, and my fantasy novel Anarya's Secret has received its first review, which you can read in the Earthdawn Live Journal.

All Blacks' Kitchen Gardens reviews

In the New Zealand Herald's Canvas magazine on 8 March, Graham Brazier gave favourable reviews to both All Blacks' Kitchen Gardens and Johanna Aitchison's A Long Girl Ago. Despite insisting on describing me as a young poet (well, I look young, but I have this really dodgy portrait hanging in the attic), Graham said some very nice things about the book, describing it as a standout among the recent flood of local poetry publications, and saying "each poem stands on its own merit, a polar opposite of its predecessor". Given that Graham is the lead singer of New Zealand band Hello Sailor, it's perhaps not surprising that he draws particular attention to "New Live Dates", my poem about an aging rock star strutting his stuff one more time.

In Poetry New Zealand 36, Owen Bullock describes the book as "a second collection from this wry and insightful Wellington poet". He focuses on those poems in the book which incorporate some reference to the rich and famous, such as "Fitness" and "Oprah Relents", saying that "the results can produce a zen-like, frozen look at the ridiculous in life".

In Bravado 12, Michael Lee is kind enough to say that the last line of the opening poem in the book, "Elfland", makes his scalp tingle.He also notes the varied subject matter, and gives some extracts from his favourite poems in the book, concluding by saying that the book "gives us Tim Jones's lively, poet's mind".

In the March issue of a fine line, the New Zealand Poetry Society newsletter, Joanna Preston is less keen: she calls the collection "uneven", and particularly dislikes "Oprah Relents". On the other hand, she does like "First Light" and several other poems, so it's not all bad news.

So, three very good reviews and one less good one: that's not too bad a ratio.

I'll add links under "Sample Poems" on the left to those of the poems mentioned in this post that are available online. And here's "Oprah Relents" - see what you think.

Oprah Relents

Oprah relents
allowing us food and water.

Her guards look on
as we wash off the grime.

The symphony of severed heads
demands a new movement.

In fifteen minutes
we go live.

This poem was first published in the New Zealand Listener, 2 July 2005, p. 42, and republished in All Blacks' Kitchen Gardens.


Joanna Preston said...

Hi Tim,
sorry if my review sounded negative. I find it hard to write a balanced review (rather than a puff piece) in 500 words. But I stand by my comments – compared to your best poems (and I think "First Light" is superb), poems like "Oprah Relents" do nothing worthwhile. You can do better, and I look forward to book three.

Tim Jones said...

Thanks for the comment (and the review), Joanna - I certainly hope there will be a book three, and I will make it as good as I can. Whether that's good enough, time will tell.