There's No Place Like the Internet in Springtime by Erik Kennedy – poetry review

by Nicholas Reid / 17 November, 2017

A debut collection bridges the pastoral and the digital with clarity and whimsy.

Often the best and most memorable volumes of poetry are the most provocative. The debut collection of Erik Kennedy certainly provoked me. From the title poem onwards there is much arch irony, sometimes verging on whimsy, as if the poet is disengaged from what he is writing about.

But once you get past this element, Kennedy hits his stride with clear, almost documentary, vignettes of time and place in Public Power, about the first town in the world to be electrified, and The Great Sunspot of 1947, reconstructing how people once thought about such things.

As a work of compassionate contemplation, An Abandoned Farm Near Lockhart, New South Wales is brilliant, handling ideas of time and decay simply by its focused description. No sign of arch irony here.

Kennedy can sometimes lapse into obscurity when it comes to political satire, but at his best he is clear and hard-hitting, as in The Paris Agreement, concerning dithering over the climate-change accord.

And then there is the sheer pleasure of his Georgics, which updates old pastoral poetry to the computer age. An amiable, easy, style takes over in Love Poem With Seagull, the wired couplets of Amores, his reflection on the messiness of love, and the specific detail of How a New Zealand Sunrise Is Different from Other Sunrises.

As a first collection, this is more than promising.

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE THE INTERNET IN SPRINGTIME, by Erik Kennedy (Victoria University Press, $25)

This article was first published in the November 17, 2018 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

Latest

The drama and the trauma behind NZ musician Shayne Carter's rise to the top
107207 2019-06-15 00:00:00Z Music

The drama and the trauma behind NZ musician Shayne…

by Mike White

Shayne Carter’s career has been wild and acclaimed. But his just-released memoir reveals the drama and trauma going on behind the scenes.

Read more
Rare photos of the Straitjacket Fits by Brian Murphy
The Handmaid's Tale is so chilling, you risk hypothermia
107150 2019-06-15 00:00:00Z Television

The Handmaid's Tale is so chilling, you risk hypot…

by Diana Wichtel

Season three of The Handmaid’s Tale packs a punch, despite some implausible scenes, writes Diana Wichtel.

Read more
Christchurch mosque attacks: Accused pleads not guilty to all charges
107204 2019-06-14 00:00:00Z Crime

Christchurch mosque attacks: Accused pleads not gu…

by Anneke Smith

The man accused of the Christchurch terror attacks has pleaded not guilty to all the charges laid against him.

Read more
One thing is certain: Political biffo is unavoidable in NZ Parliament
107183 2019-06-14 00:00:00Z Politics

One thing is certain: Political biffo is unavoidab…

by Bevan Rapson

Despite overdue efforts to improve Parliament's culture, political biffo will always be with us.

Read more
The sweeping proposal to lower speed limits is on the skids – it's a good thing
107144 2019-06-14 00:00:00Z Social issues

The sweeping proposal to lower speed limits is on…

by The Listener

Transport officials’ enthusiasm for a sweeping lowering of speed limits looks set to go the way of the once-proposed ban on cats in dairies.

Read more
Are New Zealand's intelligence agencies watching the right people?
107185 2019-06-14 00:00:00Z Social issues

Are New Zealand's intelligence agencies watching t…

by Phil Pennington

New Zealanders who feel they've done nothing wrong have found themselves under surveillance by the state and say they've been left nervous.

Read more
Never Look Away: A flawed masterpiece about life in WWII-era Germany
107122 2019-06-14 00:00:00Z Movies

Never Look Away: A flawed masterpiece about life i…

by James Robins

Epic drama captures an artist navigating the upheavals of Nazi and post-war Germany.

Read more