Murray Edmond: Fool Moon (2004)

Jack Ross, ed.: brief 30 - Kunst (November 2004)

Murray Edmond, Fool Moon. Photographs by Joanna Forsberg. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2004. ISBN 1-86940-316-9. 72 pp. RRP $27.99.

Murray Edmond: Fool Moon (2004)

It’s inspiring to read a book of poems as intensely thought-through and considered as this one. My first, superficial overview fastened mainly on Joanna Forsberg’s pictures, beautifully acute and strange – it’s still hard for me to believe the first was taken at Paekakariki: it looks so unequivocally a scene of Eastern European industrial decay. As I read the poems more carefully, though, I began to see the kinship between text and pictures: the curiously simple yet somehow linguistically alienated diction of the verse matching perfectly these fresh views of a horribly and insistently quotidian local reality:
it is not hard to leave when there is nothing left
carrying the lost picture which you do not want
the person who was is not and so everything else has escaped [8]

“Elegy for Mama” doesn’t really sound like a New Zealand poem – nor does it sound imitative of an Eastern European one. In form it recalls Eliot’s Ash Wednesday, but it doesn’t really sound like that either. It sounds like Murray Edmond, in fact. As if he’d founded his own linguistic state between – irreconcilable? – homelands. Another interesting case is the “Ballad of the Penguin,” built up (according to the notes), out of lines chosen arbitrarily from a NZ Verse anthology. It seemed a very effective poem as I was reading through. Only after I’d discovered its provenance did any disjointedness appear in the cold spare lines. This book seems like a breakthrough to me. The intelligence so liberally on display in earlier work has finally succeeded in constructing its own world, or perhaps it’s just that I’ve finally managed to see it.


brief 30 (2004): 109.

[290 wds]

brief 30 (2004)

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