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September 23 , 2009

The Radio Room


In The Radio Room, Poet Laureate Cilla McQueen travels space and time, throwing 'thought-lines' from her present-day corner of the world to the ancient Celtic islands of her ancestors ('On a cliff-top above screeching gulls I stand still thinking backwards, antipodean poet grafted from ancient taproot in this bedrock' ... 'if they spoke, what would they say? Could I understand that language at the root of my tongue?' Her point of view is at once small, interior and intimate ('I sit on an upturned apple box in the shade of my hat looking up through the pores of its straw') and in the next breath, flung outwards and upwards: 'Discovered in lenses, bent around stars. I leap island to island, altar to altar'. The collection is about the writing and reading of poetry, too: 'Poem in hand, the tendons slide and muscles smile under the skin'. 'Soapy Water' riffs on modern politics to play with this theme: 'world poetry is running low. Naturally, there is speculation in solar poetry, wind poetry, tidal poetry, all as old as mankind, since he learned to talk to himself'. Whether investigating the extinction of the natural landscape or space-time, molecules and mathematics, writing to her dear departed, watching an insect ('I am too big to be seen, like the weather'), or playfully pondering the perspective of a sock, McQueen's word-ware is as polished and intelligent as ever, and demands multiple readings to uncover each subtle layer. 'Poetry takes you apart, puts you back different' she intimates in 'Foveaux Express'. The Radio Room does just that. These are words to be visited again and again, by one of this country's most talented writers.
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