Whimsical work a little gem

JILLIAN ALLISON-AITKEN
Last updated 15:22 08/07/2014

Edwin's Egg and Other Poetic Novellas
By Cilla McQueen (Otago University Press, RRP $40)

Former New Zealand Poet Laureate Cilla McQueen has produced a cute little collection of poetic novellas that will appeal to her existing fans and also provide a great introduction to her work for new fans.

Originally one of the works McQueen undertook during her time as Poet Laureate, the project titled Serial was published on the official Poet Laureate website.

Now retitled Edwin's Egg, this eight-chapter series is repackaged as eight individual chapters in separate pocket-sized books, all bundled together in a slipcover.

McQueen describes this work as "exploring a space between prose and poetry" and the end result is accessible and enlightening.

Edwin's Egg is actually the final chapter in the series and McQueen's text sits beautifully alongside images from the Alexander Turnbull Library collection.

To be honest, it is hard to fully describe just what this is: a mini novel, a touch of poetry, visual fun and a whole lot of whimsy.

At $40 for a little collection of little books, the price may seem a little steep. However, it's also a little gem.

The White Clock
By Owen Marshall (Otago University Press, RRP $25)

Award-winning novelist, short story-writer, poet and editor Owen Marshall has also published his third collection of poems, which is perhaps not quite as biographical as Cooke's offering but every bit as interesting.

From Nelson to St Bathans to Turkey with a touch of Richard III, schoolboy memories, endearment and disillusionment, the full range of human emotion is explored in this collection.

Marshall manages to inject a good dose of humour into the mix, which highlights the significance of everyday experiences.

Born to a Red-headed Woman
By Kay McKenzie Cooke (Otago University Press, RRP $25)

Music can evoke memories and emotions and using that ability, Kay McKenzie Cooke has created a collection of poetry that highlights people and places from her past.

Cooke grew up in the rural Southland of the 1950s and 60s and the song tracks, titles and lines she has used for inspiration in this collection take the reader through her life, as a young girl growing up, as a teen pressured into adopting out her baby in the 1970s, as a wife and mother, author and grandmother.

Now living in Dunedin, Cooke has published two earlier collections of poetry. Her first effort - Feeding the Dogs - won the Montana Book Awards best first book of poetry award in 2003.

This collection is autobiographical and raw, taking the reader on a journey through the poet's life, from carefree child to angry teen to balanced grandmother and more.

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