The Same As Yes
Published November 2011
The startling poems in this debut collection are both pretty and strange, clear and mysterious. All of the poems are conversations, of sorts: a dancer talks to the floorboards; a dressing gown talks to itself; an old man talks to the radio in his sleep; men and women talk, and talk without talking. Joan Flemings empathetic imagination gives voice to the hidden conversations happening beneath our notice. This is a book about communication, connection, and the wisdom and beauty of ordinary things.
Joan Fleming won the Biggs Poetry Prize in 2007, and her work has appeared in Landfall, the Listener, Sport, and The Best of Best New Zealand Poems. She lives and works between Wellington and Golden Bay.
'These poems demonstrate that we don't need Martians to show us to ourselves. The everyday objects surrounding us can do the job, given voices to speak with. "The rug says lie down, the walls say stand up straighter, the curtains say hide." So much of the language here is urgent, and slightly sinister, the poems crowded with animate, not necessarily benign presences. Joan Fleming's odd, singular vision is a wonderfully new and valuable addition to contemporary New Zealand poetry.' - Tim Upperton, A Fine Line.
'Fleming knows how to be appealing and vulnerable in her work. It is hard not to get swept up in the fun. A man talks to the saddest bride in the world, a dancer with eyes on the palms of her hands talks to the floorboards and in a poem about growing old, an old man talks to the radio in his sleep. The Same As Yes is vibrant, a quiet joy. Gritty poems are delivered with a sweet authenticity.
For Fleming, nothing is out of reach in her poems. Inanimate objects have thoughts and feelings. There are lots of playful surprises to be found. The weight of the world is fabulous through the words of Fleming.
These pared down poems from a new talent are eloquent. The Same As Yes is mission accomplished.' Hamesh Wyatt, Otago Daily Times