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Minuit: The Sum of Us (2004)

While it seems to be going too far to suggest, as the reviewer of Radio NZ National did, that these "one-liners, poems, lyrics and tales" are "reminiscent of Cohen's mid-career poetry and writings" they are certainly more than merely diverting.

The writer -- Ruth Carr of the band Minuit -- has some snappy aphorisms, odd and dark poems and some very refined writing.

The short prose piece Kosovo ends with this chilling but frank observation: "It's very easy participating in a conversation in ex-Yugoslavia. You know it's about war. This war, the last war, and then the war before that. And also the one coming soon to a town near you."

At the other end of the spectrum are slight pieces like this, in its entirety: "I meant to hand you a bowl of love but instead it was a colander. . . . sorry . . ."

Others are more sassy, just lightning fast quips: "I'm not complaining about what I'm dealt, I just wanna beat the dealer."

Among the best are her poem Cancer which places the reality of the announcement against how people act on television ("I should have clutched my brow"), and Cancer II is simple: "You stupid, stupid thing, if you kill me, you die too". Also memorable are those more refined pieces where love appears but is often dark, over or unreachable. Hate Speak finds her in exotic foreign places but angry with herself that a former lover is there, in her head.

Using a number of type faces and also some poems/pieces in her own hand -- and illustrated with her own little drawings, Carr has created a very personal looking book. And there are Extras "like on a DVD" for some of the pieces: those marked with XX have explanatory notes or rather soul-baring confessions at the end of the book.

Carr's book may be slim, but as a first volume there are places where she shows enormous promise as an insightful poet and writer.

It's hard to escape something so short but as weighted with meaning as this:

"I cry very softly at night, so not to wake you

I looked across the bed, and you were crying softly too,

So not to wake me."

I Felt Like a Fight, Alright is available from here.

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Adam - Mar 27, 2011

An awesome review that I totally agree with. I found the book extremely insightful and proof that the best musicians are poets first.

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