It's an optical amusement, a punctured surface letting light pour through holes cut out of the picture. Moon, army tents and the windows of houses and St Mary's church glow or flicker with luminance. Between them move women and children as well as soldiers. Steamers, a brig and a schooner ride on the moonlit sea. Part and not part of the scene is the artist's son, who lies three days buried in the churchyard at the foot of the hill where his father sits sketching the arrival of imperial troops. Now walk away from the painting when it is lit up and see how light falls into the world on this side of the picture surface. Is this what the artist meant by his cut outs? Is this the meaning of every magic lantern slide? Vanishing Points concerns itself with appearance and disappearance as modes of memory, familial until we lose sight of that horizon line and must settle instead for a series of intersecting arcs. It is full of stories caught from the air and pictures made of words. It stands here and goes there, a real or an imagined place. If we can work out the navigation the rest will follow. Michele Leggott's new collection is full of history and family, lights and mirrors, the real and the surreal, now articulated through a powerful amalgam of prose poems and verse.
Michele Leggott was the inaugural New Zealand Poet Laureate 2007-09 and received the Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement in Poetry in 2013. Her collections include Heartland (2014) and Mirabile Dictu (2009), both from Auckland University Press. She coordinates the New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre (nzepc) with Brian Flaherty at the University of Auckland.