Winner of the Poetry category in the 2006 Montana New Zealand Book Awards
This collection sees one of New Zealands most accomplished poets taking risks. He has always had a deceptively easy mastery of language that makes the surface of his poems seem simple, but with the underlying suggestion deepening with each reading. He has always been the poet of cool irony and understated humour. His assured voice can be direct, oblique, teasing, says Elizabeth Smither. Those qualities continue in this volume, but the range of both theme and mode is greater than before. Again and again the poems return to themes of mortality, loss, contingency, not only in the elegies but also in the poems on Antarctica, in some of the surreal yet fabular prose poems, in the narrative and dramatic poems. Against time, death, and loss the poems present only human imagination and love, always with a sadly ironic acknowledgement that they also shall go / into the dark furniture of the radio. This vision, aware of its own limits, is presented in a wonderful variety of forms: prose poems, free verse, some rhymed verse (even a ballad in the elegy to the balladist Charles Causley), poems with lines crossed out but retained, imagist poems, narratives, epigrams, longer poems. Lifted is a short but packed book, the work of a major poet who continues to develop his art and his vision in ways that are consonant with what he has done before but that at the same time surprise and gratify us.
From the judges' report
The last lines of Bill Manhires astonishing poem Kevin lie at the heart of this book. There are mothers and fathers, Kevin, whom we barely know.
They lift us. Eventually we all shall go
into the dark furniture of the radio.
These poems want urgently to know how the secular spirit can lift itself in the face of mortality and human violence. They are full of richness and courage and surprise, turning from grief to curiosity; then to beauty, humour, anger, gratitude, acceptance and once again to curiosity. Lifted is a book by a poet writing at the height of his powers.
Praise for Lifted BOOK of the WEEK
Turning the pages of Lifted, no reader can fail to be surprised and delighted by the variety of voices and tones ...Manhire shows not only his mature formal skills but his ability to look unflinchingly into the heart of things. He is a poet in which a sly sense of humour is coupled with a respect for whatever truths a poem can wring out of experience. ...Manhires poems make us feel as if we are really there.
Billy Collins DOMINION POST
NAMED ONE OF THE NZ HERALD'S "Books of the Year "
Manhire is in darkly brilliant form in this death-haunted but scintillating collection.
Peter Simpson NEW ZEALAND HERALD
NAMED AS ONE OF THE LISTENER'S "New Zealand's Best Books 2005"
Manhire risks accusations of sentimentality and produces a triumph. This is richly human work, which acknowledges its and our limitations and keeps reaching for the high windows, regardless.
Hugh Roberts NZ LISTENER
The biggest noise in New Zealand poetry is Bill Manhire... Manhire has always known how to look at the human condition and state it simply through his poems. Lifted is confident and emotive in what it tries to achieve. ...Lifted is shining stuff from truly one of our best poets. Definitely check this one out.
Hamesh Wyatt OTAGO DAILY TIMES
Manhire changes tack in every poem, coming at us with different techniques and different personae. It's a marvellously varied performance...Lifted is a short book, but few readers will be able to take it all in at a single sitting. It demands -and rewards- re-reading.
Iain Sharp SUNDAY STAR TIMES
An event to be celebrated . . . a powerful collection.
Tom Weston THE PRESS
He has matured sturdily, and grown to an impressive height, and put down roots so tenacious in their grip on the world that itll take the devil of a wind to topple him.
Michael Hulse NEW ZEALAND BOOKS
I love this latest collection of poems. . . They are hauntingly beautiful.
Alexandrina Ellis SALIENT