Jennifer Harrison: Colombine

Martin Duwell

Martin Duwell

Martin Duwell was born in England in 1948. He taught for thirty-five years in the School of English, Media Studies and Art History at

...

Poet of pairs

Martin Duwell

 

Colombine: New & Selected Poems
by Jennifer Harrison
Black Pepper, $28.95 pb, 247 pp, 9781876044657

 

Colombine selects from Jennifer Harrison’s four previous collections and adds a book-length group of new poems. In keeping with current practice, the new poems precede the selections, so that anyone wanting to consider Harrison’s twenty-year poetic career in terms of development has to begin some seventy pages in with the poems from her first book, Michelangelo’s Prisoners (1995). You met a lot of her distinctive interests in that book, and it still stands up well. She looks at what we would call embodiment from a distinctly scientific perspective, invoking the position of Humberto Maturana to write poems in which the sea, a major and polyvalent symbol in her work, can stand for the medium in which our embodiment occurs: ‘If each observation is a system / each thought an adaptation, then we drift / upon a spacious sea.’

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Published in February 2011 no. 328

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