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AUP New Poets 8 by Lily Holloway, Tru Paraha, Modi Deng


This new collection of poetry from AUP brings three contemporary (and highly successful) female poets together in a raw and cohesive unit. Three poets with quite starkly different world views, particularly Modi who now resides in London as an accomplished pianist. Her work has the lyricism of the music she is so passionate about.


Beginning with Lily Holloway whose voice is mature and contemplative, her collection 'a child in that alcove' contains some beautiful compositions of the English language - particularly 'as the tide' with its exploration of filial relationships and depression. She draws on her experiences as a 'forever-queer' as her website puts it. She is well controlled in her choices of words and phrasing and maximising the impact of her poetic style. As the collection continues, Holloway becomes more experimental in her graphology utilising blank space on the page to accentuate her thoughts and concepts.


In the middle of the collection is Tru Paraha's offering 'in my darling universe'. This set is quite a shift from the more introspective nature of Holloway. In Paraha’s collection she looks at the world through literary and cultural lenses and utilises her dramatic style with poise and efficacy. Like Holloway, Paraha experiments with typography and orientation of the text. She enhances the meaning through the presentation of the words on the page. As an accomplished writer, Paraha makes the words jump off the page and become something that the reader can seemingly interact with. Her lyrical stylings are fluent and engaging.


Finally, in the triumvirate of modern female poets is Modi Deng, the Dunedin girl made good. Her academic prowess saw her achieve high accolades throughout her educational career, and her piano skills are internationally recognised. Her collection in this set is the Chinese Characters phonetically translated into the Latin alphabet as ‘an wei’ and uses more traditional form and imagery as she navigates the worlds of historical Romantic composers and the connections between New Zealand, Beijing, and London - where she now resides. The confluence of these concepts creates disharmony at times but also a rich intermingling of culture and ideas.


Overall, the collection holds the contributions of three fine and influential users of the modern poetic style. Each brings a range of influences and styles that complement but also delineate in their approach. New Zealand has a fine literary tradition in the production of quality poetry; it looks like the future of that tradition is firmly secure.


Reviewer: Chris Reed

Auckland University Press, RRP $29.99