Black Pepper, $24 pb, 89 pp, 9780648038702
After Stephen Edgar’s nine collections of poetry, the last seven of which are distinguished by an extraordinary control over metre and rhyme, a reviewer feels bound to ask how this new book, Transparencies, differs from its predecessors? There are at least two answers: the recurrent spirit of the poet’s mother, Marion Isabel Edgar (1922–2015), to whom the book is dedicated, and the poet’s elegant conviction that the universe lacks any meaning beyond that which we arbitrarily impose on it. A third concern – not entirely new – is the unreliability of our senses, particularly our vision, and how our perception of the world tends to be layered rather than completed in a single ‘take’.
The well-designed cover of Transparencies features a painting by Judith Martinez called ‘Rumours of Light’. A woman in a wind-flounced dress stares across what seems to be an estuary. Littoral views like this are recurrent in Edgar’s verse, and a smaller monochromatic version of the painting is used to separate the book’s three sections.