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This review is taken from PN Review 47, Volume 12 Number 3, January - February 1986.

CHILD OF EXILES Lauris Edmond, Catching It (Oxford University Press) £8.95 pb.

Advertised as New Zealand's most distinguished woman poet, and indeed marked out for praise by reviewers of the Oxford Book of Contemporary New Zealand Verse (see Dick Davis, PNR 37), Lauris Edmond will be unknown to most British readers. She may remain so: this beautifully produced volume of 48 pages is very expensive, and her Selected Poems forthcoming from Oxford University Press will cost £10.95 (128 pp.). Yet she should not remain so: the intimacy and reflectiveness of her poems, their easy gait, openness to experience, a leaning forward into new places, new areas of experience - these make her work immensely attractive.

The book is divided into three sections: the first based on her time in Menton as Katherine Mansfield Fellow; the second, 'Going to Moscow', deals with specific foreign experiences - such as looking at a Klee painting in New York - but also with those states of dissatisfaction, longing, learning to accept what is given, hinted at in the Chekhovian reference; and 'The Condition' - eating, sleeping beside her children, gardening, visiting a dying friend - watching other lives, and reflecting on the turns of her own.

Her sense of place is strongest in the Menton section, where Lauris Edmond is concerned with salting away experience to take back 12,000 miles. The first poem, 'Moreporks in Menton', encapsulates the conjunction of the incongrous reminder of the unmusically, accurately named native bird with the south of France; it plays upon the syllable 'more' ...


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