Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Elsewhere has always had a soft spot for poetry/spoken word and interesting writing, and in the past has posted from the likes of Selina Tusitala Marsh who is a compelling Pasifika voice, and from the AUP book/double disc Contemporary New Zealand Poets in Performance, as well as posting interviews with, or articles about, writers such as Beat legend Lawrence Ferlinghetti, black-British reggae poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, revolutionary US writer Amiri Baraka and others.
In fact we have a whole section of this on-line magazine dedicated to Writing in Elsewhere.
Perhaps this collection by writer/broadcaster Oliver could more correctly be in that section, but the music by Australian multi-instrumentalist Matt Ottley is so integral to the conception that we acknowledge it here.
Oliver has spent so much time in Australia (and elsewhere) that although he is much published, he is barely known here -- yet there is something immediate familiar about his voice: it has the authoritative tone of a news-reader (well, one from days gone by I suppose) and indeed he has made a living doing voice-overs and the like.
But his words -- delivered in a masculine, assured, compelling manner -- reach from evocations of ancient poetics to images from the contemporary world with an ease which is admirable and can, at times, be usefully disconcerting. He wastes little time on niceties and although there maybe wisps of nostalgia they are fleeting.
This is poetry with the impact of a news report (Emblem for Dead Youth), base politics grabbed by the throat and shaken (Stalin's Cotton Socks), descriptive phrases which are instantly memorable ("a Delft-glazed moon") and references with a global reach (Hania, A Simple Tale) which never talk down to the listener. Earthy but intellectual, considered and gripping.
And with baroque piano figures, rock guitars, driving percussion, cello or exotic oud from Ottley --as well as soprano Hester Hannah in a couple of pieces -- this is poetry as music in your ear. Not always easy, never pretentiously arch, this is a collection that reveals its many layers slowly -- and will take you on many (and diverse) journeys.