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At the Point of Seeing by Megan Kitching

Megan Kitching's debut poetry collection At the Point of Seeing offers a richly observant and nuanced perspective on the natural world.

Drawing on her background in studying 18th century natural philosophy poetry for her PhD, Kitching brings a botanist's eye to vividly capture precise details of flora and fauna. Yet she balances scientific precision with imaginative lyricism, effortlessly weaving together empirical observation and awe.

Kitching has a remarkable attentiveness to overlooked or under-appreciated aspects of nature, from the tenacious weeds underfoot to the obscured stars and dark skies diminished by light pollution. Her poems gently yet insistently urge readers to slow down, still their busy minds, and appreciate the living, breathing natural environment that surrounds and sustains human existence.

Days come by degrees

Cars crunch past through crevasses

scattered bones and every gravel sits

toothed in shadow.

Have I ventured so close to old?

I think of the slip of a sole

and my heart fuses.

(“Walking is controlled falling” by Megan Kitching)

Kitching highlights intricate interconnections between humans and nature, evoking colonisation, climate change, and the Anthropocene, but also finding resilience and reasons for hope if we open our eyes to really see. Her poems range in scale from zoomed-in moments like a bee painstakingly climbing up a windowpane to zoomed-out visions encompassing geological epochs, situating human life within a deeper time frame.

While her primary focus circulates around the natural world, Kitching's poems also touch on fundamental human experiences and relationships. She captures subtle shifts in emotion, psychological insights, and telling details in brisk, imagistic vignettes. Kitching frequently locates wider meaning in mundane everyday incidents and exchanges, viewing them through an observant, gently philosophical lens. She experiments with varied poetic forms and approaches as she explores how we relate to the world and each other.

A bee against a window

crawls, sidles, then drops

dogged, like a swimmer

under a waterfull pummelled

by the pipe-organ drone

of its own labours. The glass

viscous as summer air

ripples with grains of light.

(“A Bee Against a Window” by Megan Kitching)

Kitching's ability to open up existential questions of our place in the universe through her keen eye for precise sensory imagery is coupled with an imaginative approach. Her poems take readers out of their habitual modes of perception into a state of contemplative awareness of both the outer and inner worlds. They highlight that meaningful insights can emerge from quiet moments of deep attention.

Above all, At the Point of Seeing invites readers into a state of wonder, appreciation, and awakened presence with the natural environment and fundamental human experiences that comprise our lives. Kitching reminds us that significance lies not just in grand spectacles but also in the small details that reveal the extraordinary within the ordinary. Through her gifts of lyrical observation, she reawakens our senses to the overlooked miracles that surround us each day.

Reviewer: Chris Reed

Otago University Press


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