Whistling in the Dark (2014)

Jack Ross, ed.: Poetry NZ Yearbook 1 [Issue #49] (October 2014)

Books and Magazines in brief:

John O’Connor. Whistling in the Dark. ISBN 978-0-473-29151-8. Wellington: HeadworX, 2014.

John O’Connor: Whistling in the Dark (2014)

It’s truly amazing how technically adventurous John O’Connor allows himself to be in this new collection from HeadworX, hot on the heels of last year’s Aspects of Reality (reviewed in PNZ 48). Is he not one of the most unjustly neglected New Zealand poets, in fact? When you consider the strength of his body of work to date, and his willingness to keep changing and experimenting with each new decade, I find O’Connor a constant inspiration. It’s not a particularly benign or kindly voice, one would have to admit: “Keep it Stupid, Stupid” is the title of a couple of prose poems which are certainly somewhat disconcerting in their wildness and exuberant wit:
an organ grinder walks towards the idea of a museum. he trundles a pushcart. an imaginary monkey sits on his shoulder waving its penis at the tourists. [p.61]

What does all that mean? Bugger all, one suspects, and yet the notion of an imaginary building that’s no longer there could scarcely be seen as a neutral one in post-earthquake Christchurch. Excellent – if disturbing – stuff.


Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 1 [Issue #49]. ISSN 0114-5770 (2014): 234.

[188 wds]

Poetry NZ Yearbook 1 (2014)

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