Author(s): O'BRIEN GREGORY
Gregory O'Brien's first collection of poems since Afternoon of an Evening Train (2005), Beauties of the Octagonal Pool is centred on the 'octagonal pool' of the Waitemata Harbour. In an eight-armed embrace, Beauties of the Octagonal Pool collects poems written from and out of a variety of times, locations and experiences, from the water-frontages of Fiji, Fiordland and the Mediterranean to the built history of Moscow and Berlin. Gregory O'Brien's poems here - his first collection for seven years - have a thoughtful musicality, a shambling romance, a sense of humour, an eye on the horizon. And in the background, a soft directional chant of possibility: north, northwest, south, southeast, west, southwest, east, northeast. On Raoul Island there is a mechanical rat; in Moscow we encounter a black negligee and an ice-cream vendor; in Sault, a mayor and the Mistral; on Waiheke, the horses of memory thunder down the course; and in Doubtful Sound, the first guitar music heard in New Zealand spills over the waves.
A gazing ball, an infinity pool, an endless sea, an organic compass, a contrapuntal spring, a glorious parrot, a bounded harbour - the octagonal pool might reflect where we've been to, or where we are going. This is a good place to be marooned.
Once again, O'Brien has proved that he's a magician with words. If his earlier book on contemporary New Zealand art for young (and not so young), "Welcome to the South Seas," was a hit, this sequel is sheer magic . . . . Many other art writers could learn much from O'Brien's approach. Readers, meanwhile, can revel in one of the year s best art books. Christopher Moor, "Press," on "Back and Beyond""
Gregory O'Brien, born in Matamata and educated in Auckland, is now a Wellington-based writer, teacher, artist, anthologist and curator. His many books of poetry, fiction, essays and criticism. His most recent books include A Micronaut in the Wide World: The Imaginative Life and Times of Graham Percy (AUP, 2011). In 2011, in company with other artists and writers, O'Brien voyaged to Tonga via the Kermadecs on HMS Otago. His poetry also travels widely, having appeared on high-fashion garments, on horse blankets and in art works.
1. Beauties of the octagonal pool -- 2. The sea of where it was we went -- 3. Breaksea girl -- 4. Red square, black square -- 5. Little Oneroa -- 6. Among trees -- 7. Romantic voyage -- 8. The invisible fathers -- Note 119.