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Review: Carnival Edge: New and Selected Poems, by Katherine Gallagher

Anna Avebury, Ver Poets' Poetry World, Autumn 2010

A collection to treasure, including the best of Katherine's considerable output, spanning the years from 1974 to the current day. There is an impressive range of perspectives and subject matter from the intimacies of poems about motherhood: Firstborn, Fledgling, to a broader, more universal standpoint: International, The Long Reach Out of War, with poems about Australia, artists and travel, offering further testimony to her wit, insight and poetic skills.

No word is wasted in Katherine's poems; she effortlessly glides into metaphor, playful inversions and unexpected turns of thought. She has an artist's eye for colour and line, a musician's ear for rhythm, tone and key, and a poet's skill in selection of the best word. Remote, unusual places and experiences are brought within the reader's grasp: hood-nosed verandahs /over stone-slab footpaths bringing Maldon, an old mining town, vividly to life. People and relationships spring to
life on the page: eyes steeled on her knitting in Passengers to the City, or And she saw they stood between their shadows and the wolf / who howls for them in the night in Hunger.

In other poems, it's the subtle choice of viewpoint, sometimes the energy and openness of the first person 'I' which becomes the means of entering
and sharing the journey her poems map out, catch(ing) each venture like a living thing.