With the Dunedin Readers and Writers Festival upon us I thought it appropriate to give Sue Wootton’s most recent publication The Yield a go.
I admit that I haven’t dabbled enough in modern New Zealand literature. In the past I’ve been prejudiced against it, particularly poetry, so if you wanna know what book to start with that won’t make you cringe, try this one.
In this collection of 59 sophisticated and haunting poems, Wootton touches upon nature, medical institutions, personal suffering and women. She plays with structure and is diverse in her presentation, from the poem Wild:
‘Measure my wild. Down to my last leaf,
my furled, my desiccated. This deciduousness,
this bloom. Calculate my xylem levels,
my spore count, fungal, scarlet
in a blue glad. Whoosh,’
to the playful and clever Little Shanty:
‘My hull, my anchor and my sail,
my spinnaker, my mizzen,
my oars and rudder, cyclone, swell-
my ocean, my horizon.’
Just a taste of what’s been brewed - how can you not love it?
The book is immediately mature, each word picked out carefully to create fresh and elegant images. Wootton’s creativity knows no bounds, she is polished, and even her poem about daffodils is exceptional, and that’s a topic known to slam a few books closed. Familiar places and scenery are scattered throughout her work, the Peninsula, Hawea, and the clever little poem titled ‘Dune Din’. To read of these places in her words is to see them in a new and wonderful light.
I have always and will always find it a challenge to review poetry, let alone write it, and I will never understand how people judge it for competitions or classes, so let’s keep it brief. The Yield is an accomplished, divine collection, Sue Wootton is a wizard with words, and you should really read this if you have little faith in NZ writing. Hot tip: best read outdoors, somewhere cold, somewhere foggy, and fairly miserable, oh hey, lucky we all live in Dunedin.