Friday, 2 August 2013

Formidable! (Fr)

The Linen Way has its first review. Well, rave, actually. By a writer well qualified to rave. Carolyn McCurdie is an author and poet of quiet power. She's just quietly won the NZ Poetry Society's 2013 International Competition with her poem 'Making up the Spare Beds for the Brothers Grimm'. Ratty, managing to read her review as a personal victory, had himself (slightly under-)baked into a mocha cake.

Take it away, Carolyn:
"Here I am, standing on the tallest roof-top, bellowing into the largest megaphone I can find, to rave about The Linen Way by Melissa Green. What adjectives will do the job? I'll try: luminescent, brave, beautiful. I've never read such a powerful testament to poetry. It's as essential here as oxygen, as love.

For her, it was life and death. Suffering from mental illness, living in a cruel, unloving family, Melissa made her first suicide attempt aged eight. Books, words, poetry kept her alive, gave her meaning and passion before the next sucking surge of nothing. There is courage here beyond my understanding.

This is also a testament to gift. Melissa Green's own gift of language declares itself on every line, but she also stands witness to the tenderness, faithfulness of great poets and therapists who reached out to her, pulling her back to life and to her true writing self again and again. She was mentored by Derek Walcott, who gave her tough-love guidance, and his relentless belief in her. The Russian poet Joseph Brodsky sat for hours with his arms around her when she was at her lowest points. I will never read the poetry of these men in the same way again. They gave her the persevering, unconditional love that was so lacking in her early life, making this a soaring song of hope from someone who began with none.

When I finished reading this, I felt I had been given a gift, as if Melissa Green had pressed some small thing into the palm of my hand for my fingers to curl around in recognition. I've read it twice, and each time I've felt a little changed by it. I'll read it again. It will change me further.


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