Harvey McQueen makes poems from the mental reality of life as a thoughtful and perceptive contemporary New Zealander. As for all his readers, his anxieties about office responsibilities or world affairs are interspersed with domestic activities and the pleasures of reading, travel, the garden, friendships, and memory. Unpretentious yet skilfully crafted, the poems in Recessional are most original where they seem most ordinary. No other New Zealand poet could write so movingly about his last day at the Wellington office, or following in his head the progress of a business trip he has missed through illness, or about disposing of the Christmas tree or sitting by an open fire. McQueen's sixth collection, Recessional, has a more elegiac tone, with some notable poems that revive memories of his South Island youth. But the intellectual vitality and emotional honesty that have always distinguished this poet are undiminished. His thoughts are always on the move, even in his most affectionately domestic settings, and his juxtapositions surprise us in poem after poem, zigzagging among different ideas, images, impressions, even continents. With his sharp and sensitive eye on email, television, and 9/11, as well as the sparrows, tui and lupins in his garden, the poet affirms the significance of private thought, and the verities of love, loss, home, and memory. Recessional confirms Harvey McQueen's place as a mature New Zealand writer interested in more important things than literary fashion.
- Roger Robinson (Co-editor, Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature)
|Category||New Zealand Poetry|