Puncher & Wattmann, $24 pb, 105 pp, 9781921450402
Mark Tredinnick’s much-anticipated first collection of poetry, Fire Diary, is an examination of place and how to respond to it. The title provides a clue to the form of the book; many poems chart the daily exigencies of living within nature. More importantly, the collection explores the moods and aspirations of the self, of a person grappling with meaning in life, and with language itself. In the title poem, Tredinnick argues, ‘Fire is the madness / in us all’, a Heraclitan take on the element; fire becomes the metaphor for creativity, passion, and contradiction. Yet Tredinnick’s motives are not wholly earnest. His intent is often playful and suggestive, as when he says in ‘Song of (Someone Like) My Self’, a riposte to Whitman’s grandiose ‘Song of Myself’: ‘I’m just a small metaphor / for the world hereabouts.’ Informality is a key element in Tredinnick’s use of language; ‘hereabouts’ strikes just the right note in its implication of place that is both personal and general enough to be any place.