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Colleen Higgs

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Review of Lava Lamp Poems in latest Scrutiny 2

The December 2011 edition of Scrutiny 2, the UNISA literary journal, includes a review of Lava Lamp Poems by Deidre Byrne. As reviews of poetry are few and far between, it is thrilling to get a review, and even more thrilling to have one by a reviewer who ‘gets’ your work and takes the time and space to write about it as fully as Byrne has done.

Almost the first aspect of the volume to strike the reader is its profound South African-ness. For example, “the comfort of parquet” lists a series of iconic places in Johannesburg that the speaker misses, including “the Market Theatre, Jamesons, Kippies, Rumours, Scandalos / the Black Sun” (17), and each of them conjures, for the reader who is literate in Johannesburg landscape and culture, a particular, unique shade of feeling that is skilfully associated with a period in South African history. This is more than a mere list of places the speaker has visited; each is thoughtfully selected to form a pencil-stroke in a sketch of a period in history that is contrasted with “the too finely tuned / anxiety of all that was going on around / and within me — crushing, brutal, oppressive” (17). The accumulated negatives at the end of the line form a powerful contrast with the remembered ease of the speaker’s past precisely because of the poet’s care in choosing the spaces she mentions.

For the full review click here

Lava Lamp Poems

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