Salt Publishing, $26.95 pb, 91 pp
Andrew Taylor’s latest book reprises themes common to many of his earlier poetry collections – movement between the antipodes and Europe; the natural landscape; affinities with music – but also, as the title suggests, themes of haunting and unhaunting, visitation and absence. Taylor was ill with cancer in 2003, and his confrontation with death has strongly informed The Unhaunting. The book is divided into five sections, and while the trajectory is far from linear, a sense of moving from darkness to light, from threat to release, unfolds.
The first section, ‘The Importance of Waiting’, deals explicitly with the poet’s illness, and the opening poem (‘Night by Night’) establishes concerns with darkness, surgery and the long labour of recovery. It also offers the first of many references to metaphorical and literal gates and doorways, as well as the first appearance of a shadowy other – generally a ‘she’ – that haunts the collection: ‘She will come again at 3, I know it / the way a shoulder presages rain. / 3 a.m. By the gate leading to the dark park.’