Bernadette Hall

Ponies, The

ISBN: 9780864735522

The poems in this collection range from the hazardous beauty of Antarctica to the urban nightmare of London, July 7, 2005. From love in the 60s to Wellington’s lively contemporary scene.

Praise for The Ponies

The pleasure I found in reading and rereading The Ponies comes from the coherence of the collection as a whole. Its unforced unity of tone and philosophy is what elevates it, in my mind, from being merely about a place or an event or about the poet. It attacks the big ideas in an unpretentious and convincing manner.

The Ponies is an enormously accomplished collection, tempting a reviewer to reach for a grab-bag of hyperbole. It's funny and sad by turns, attractive and engaging throughout. ...This is an essential collection for anyone interested in New Zealand poetry.
Tom Weston THE PRESS

...beautifully written, suspenseful journeys into sorrow and danger.

The concerned with the unsettlement of one's view of things. In the Antarctica poems Hall takes the voice of previous explorers to demonstrate that the "hazardous beauty" exists more as a site for the exploration of an inner world than a physical reality.

It's a quality of intimacy that the poems share with the rest of the collection. In the second most potent part of the book, Hall considers the carnage of the London bombings of July 7, 2005, which killed her niece. In part three, the poems are based on art works and memories. ...This collection is profound and beautiful, not least because [the poems] speak gratefully of the integrity and restorative possibilities of the poet's craft.

The Ponies is a subtle and sophisticated book, from its clever rhymes - "cloth/enough" - to its running threads of imagery - "her eyes glittered like the sun off ice" - to its understated humour: a Catholic priest offering counsel to a young couple about to marry has "eyebrows hunching and/stretching like caterpillars on a cineraria leaf". Staring at the wide white page of Antarctica, Hall sees through the optical illusions of its swirling white vapours to its magnetic core, the numinous ground where myth and meaning are generated.

While retaining an air of conversational spontaneity throughout and never seeming forced or heavy-handed, the book gradually builds into a piquant meditation on life's uncertainty and fragility. ...Hall's shrewdly understated verse repays repeated reading.

She is the editor of Like Love Poems: Selected Poems by Joanna Margaret Paul, and, with James Norcliffe, of the popular anthology of Canterbury poetry Big Sky. In December 2004, Bernadette Hall and the Dunedin artist Kathryn Madill spent two weeks in Antarctica on an Antarctica New Zealand fellowship, and in 2006 she was Writer in Residence at Victoria University of Wellington.


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