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by C. K. Stead

Part of our Arc International Poets series

Receiving the King's Lynn Poetry Award for 2001, and a visit in the same year to Bayreuth to hear the complete Wagner Ring cycle, set C. K. Stead writing the sequences which open and close this collection.

The opening sequence, 'King's Lynn and the Pacific', follows the fortunes of two young sailors, James Burney and George Vancouver, as they sail with Captain Cook into the Pacific. The closing sequence, 'At Wagner's Tomb', sees the great composer in his relationships with some of the major figures in his life. Both sequences engage the poet's long-established technical skills — particularly, here, in the use of syllabics — in combination with his talent as a storyteller. Between comes a group of poems that are, by turns, witty, satirical, philosophical, reflective and lyrical in which the 'Dog' theme of the King's Lynn sequence recurs.

In this new collection, C. K. Stead shows himself still in full charge of a talent which has surprised, delighted and challenged readers of poetry since it first declared itself in the 1950s.

His best poems display that defiant, personal quirk of original perception that makes you blink and turn back to them in surprise, to re-read and memorise them, to interiorise them as scraps of wisdom, moments of illumination.

David Eggleton, NZ Listener

...measured out in tightly welded syllables...understated, yet vivid... a collection rich in irony... intellectual sport.

Herbert Williams, Roundyhouse 17, Jan 2006 idiosyncratic book that wears its seriousness lightly... at times complex and intricate...

Tim Liardet, The North 36

These poems confirm his consummate skills as a writer. He makes poetry look easy, but don't be fooled — his instinctive eye and ear for form, line-break and just the right word make him a master craftsman.

James Brown, Evening Post

80 pages
ISBN 1 900072 79 3
Published August 2004

» About C. K. Stead