Viewport width =
May 1, 2016 | by  | in Books |
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestTweet about this on Twitter

Beside Herself

★★★★★

Author: Chris Price

Publisher: Auckland University Press

 

The cover of Chris Price’s new collection of poetry, Beside Herself, features an illustration of a mask by Leo Bensemann, frowning slightly in its disembodied state, floating alone on the page. The poems in this collection can be read as a series of masks, and in them Price inhabits many voices and personas: from a man on the wrong side of a paternity test, to a medieval man called Churl, to Hamlet. She suggests in a teasing, conversational series of epigraphs, “oh to be someone else for once,” (Georg Buchner: Leonce and Lena), which is answered by Frederick Seidel’s, “but we are someone else. We’re born that way.” Or to phrase it in Price’s words, at the end of her poem “Abandoned Hamlet”: “I am every character. Every every character.”

The voices in this book are strikingly varied, but they all ring with Price’s dark humour, and are executed with care and gravity. The title suggests a multiplicity of selves, with Price acting as both speaker and onlooker, or perhaps a ventriloquist of sorts. You never see her lips move, but the book speaks. The poems in this collection feel alive—swinging between comedy and tragedy. The word black recurs so often in this collection, Price said she was considering naming it The Black Book: but, comedy is tinged with unease, and grief has a punchline.

Beside Herself is vital and surprising, and at times alarming. There is a wonderful sense of recklessness, but Price is a writer at the height of her craft, and her poetry carries no excess baggage. As she says in “Wrecker’s Song”: “All of my best lines are accidents / you cannot generate an accident. / You can only put yourself / in harm’s way.”

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

About the Author ()

Add Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent posts

  1. “It doesn’t have to be boring”: Chlöe Swarbrick vs. status quo
  2. Work
  3. Editorial—Issue 22, 2016
  4. I, Daniel Blake and the Welfare State
  5. Young Voters: Waking the Sleeping Giants
  6. The Sky Is Falling
  7. Tell us about Talis
  8. Vic group launch their Reclaim-munist Manifesto
  9. Bye Bye Little Karori (in two years time)
  10. Students seize opportunity to rant at Grant
i-daniel-blake

Editor's Pick

I, Daniel Blake and the Welfare State

: Recently at the NZIFF I was fortunate enough to see Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake, this year’s winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes. By the end of the film nearly everybody seemed to be in mourning and most of the people seated around me were sniffling and wiping their eyes. I,