This second collection from Richard Reeve is the kind of book you cannot ignore. It fully justifies his growing reputation. His fiercely independent voice, often dark, macabre, sardonic, angry, is powerful and dramatic. The focus on the natural world of South Island bush and mountain and on philosophic subjects is unfashionable but this poet stands for a welcome challenge to easy expectations and reminds us that poetry is capable of other things than witty, sophisticated word play.
First published 2004.
""Unlike anything you'll find previously published in New Zealand.... But it's not impenetrable, despite the demanding, even showy, vocabulary. In fact it revolves around some of the big themes of literature: What is our relationship with the natural world? What does knowing mean?..."If you're looking for a heady amalgam with echoes of Baxter, Camus, Ginsberg, and Dylan Thomas, then this baby's for you."
Dunedin-based Richard Reeve, born in 1976, is one of a group of exciting young writers to have emerged in the South of New Zealand in recent years. He won the Macmillan Brown Prize for Poetry in 1998 for an earlier folio of poems and was awarded the 2002/2003 Todd Foundation New Writer's Bursary of $20,000. Richard is the founding editor of the literary magazine Glottis: New Writing, which he currently co-edits with Nick Ascroft. His poems published widely in journals in New Zealand, Australia and Britain and his poem Ranfurly featured as one of Iain Sharp's selection of New Zealand's 25 Best Poems of 2001. (www vuw.ac.nz/modernletters/bnzp); Dialectic of Mud (AUP), Richard's first published solo collection, was launched on Montana New Zealand Poetry Day 2001. Launching Dialectic of Mud, poet John Dolan said Richard, "is like a character in The Seven Samurai - the Samurai 'who cared for nothing but the perfection of his art'. His book is marvellously, heroically, improbably against the grain." His second collection The Life and the Dark will be published by Auckland University Press in 2003. The Life and the Dark was written courtesy of the Todd Foundation New Writer's Bursary, without which, says Reeve, "its completion would not have been possible." "The Life and the Dark attempts to address the unending dynamic of closure and openness which underpins our sometimes receptive, frequently apathetic approach both to the world and to other people. If it is a political love poem, it is because it advocates love as a fall-out shelter against absurdity." At present Reeve is working on a long poem called The Among, which pays tribute to the Otago peninsula's natural history, specifically Papanui Inlet. He stresses strongly, "I am a poet, not an academic." Nonetheless, his doctoral thesis, Sein-Language: a Hermeneutic of New Zealand Poetic Reality, is currently awaiting examination.