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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Face to the Sky by Michele Leggott

Updated: May 16, 2023


Face to the Sky is the new collection of poetry from the gifted Michele Leggott. Known for her incredible use of language and the lyrical nature of the writing, Leggott delivers yet again with another crafted and wonderful selection of modern poems.


Split across six sections, Leggott brings together two women - the poet herself, and Emily Cumming Harris (a painter) - separated by a hundred years, but connected through their individual journeys and the spirit of the mountain in Taranaki.


The mountain is always there, and it provides and protects in its way. With this connecting link, Leggott gives the reader a beautiful recollection of her own journey and her understanding of Harris’s.

As with previous collections, Leggott pushes the boundaries of lyricism and construction with her wonderful knowledge of language and control. She has a comprehensive understanding of sound and image, as can be seen in heuriskein in the section: Haemopoiesis


but not before the stars

in her spiral arms turn one more time and the stirring stick froths the milky

clouds of Oort of Magellan hull down

over Malagasy and incomprehensible

to any but the most persistent listener

(‘heuriskein’ by Michelle Leggott)


And, similarly in the proceeding ships in the distance complete the sea that lapped my terraced


I fall to pieces but not until

her voice walks me through

the skein of stars that milky way

discovering terraces

spiralling over archipelagos and oceans

(‘ships in the distance complete the sea that lapped my terraced’ by Michelle Leggott


Leggott blends the two worlds with precision and poise, her rawness in her language choices is easy to spot, but the melodic style with which she presents her ideas is incredible and so complex. She is a joy to read.


Without doubt, Leggott is producing work at the top of her game. Her thoroughness and her crafting of structures and forms is second to none. She is a gift to the nation and this selection reinforces her place as one of our greatest.


Reviewer: Chris Reed

Auckland University Press

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