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.
The White Clock,
by Owen Marshall (Otago University Press, RRP $25):
Award-winning novelist, short story-writer, poet and editor Owen Marshall has published three collections of poems, with the third volume – The White Clock – arriving on my desk for review along side Born to a Red-headed Woman. This one 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.