Viewport width =
March 5, 2007 | by  | in Books |
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestTweet about this on Twitter


Sol – it’s an apt title for summer reading, but the cover image is of a sunflower not in bloom. Seeds are falling from its dead, drooping eye onto grass. Near the sun lurk the shadows, but more sun may yet bloom out of the shade.This collection has a deeply spiritual feel to it. Sol is not just sun but “Solitude, solace, consolation.”

Johnston is the 2007 Stout Fellow at Victoria, where he’s writing a book about contemporary New Zealand poetry. This is his fifth poetry collection, following Birds of Europe (2000), The Open Window (1999), The Sounds (1996) and How to Talk (1993).

There are, in fact, two ‘suns’ at the heart of this collection. ‘Les Baillessats’, for Johnston’s young son, hails the child’s reaction to French farm life – “You see everything, but you won’t remember it”. The child sees a butterfly, “a new soul hatched, every minute, with new wings.”

’The Sunflower’ is an elegy for Johnston’s father in which a Christ-like, glowing, terrifying image appears risen from a tired mortal body – “death brings lillies but someone has sent a sunflower:/ this is our penance, staring at the sun/its blind eye/its ragged halo.”

In ‘Glacier’, a radiant but frightening display of global warming inflicts itself on sorbet-eating latterday ‘Romans’, “and suddenly the sun/ puts out its tongue/and another glacier/melts like icecream.”

Sol is not just the sun, but the leafy sheltering tree beneath it and the shiver you get from sitting in its shade.


Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestTweet about this on Twitter

About the Author ()

Comments are closed.

Recent posts

  1. Cuttin’ it with with Miss June
  2. SWAT
  3. Ravished by the Living Embodiment of All Our University Woes
  4. New Zealand’s First Rainbow Crossing is Here (and Queer)
  5. Chloe Has a Yarn About Mental Health
  6. “Stick with Vic” Makes “Insulting” and “Upsetting” Comments
  7. Presidential Address
  8. Final Review
  9. Tears Fall, and Sea Levels Rise
  10. It’s Fall in my Heart

Editor's Pick

This Ain’t a Scene it’s a Goddamned Arm Wrestle

: Interior – Industrial Soviet Beerhall – Night It was late November and cold as hell when I stumbled into the Zhiguli Beer Hall. I was in Moscow, about to take the trans-Mongolian rail line to Beijing, and after finding someone in my hostel who could speak English, had decided