Stephanie de Montalk

Vivid Familiar

ISBN: 9780864735980

Vivid Familiar is a book of journeys. At its centre is the astonishing ‘Feathers and Wax’, in which the housebound poet is taken away by an airship that pulls up at her kitchen window. Other poems explore the long journey of the early European settlers of New Zealand, notions of distance and belonging, dislocation and constraint. But equally important are the arrivals, and the ‘vivid familiars’ that sustain the spirit.

Praise for Vivid Familiar

Dark intoxicating poems duck and weave between multilayered thoughts, confounding expectations - but always retaining a cheeky, charming common sense. A reader would enjoy a brief trip to Everest and hang around the Wishing Tree, a bit different from Enid Blyton's version.
At its centre, 'Feather and Wax' is a nine-part, 15-page poem that hits the right notes. De Montalk is enlightened and it comes through in her poems.


Vivid Familiar represents the work of a writer unafraid to use her intellect to approach themes that enthrall her.
Paula Green NZ HERALD

Language keeps pace with this frolicking adventure that sees the poet juxtapose words
and phrases in the most flamboyant, energised and startling of ways.
A real tour de force.


Stephanie de Montalk is the award-winning author of three previous collections of poems; The Fountain of Tears, a novel—‘maybe the most exotic story yet written in this country’—that imagines the narrative behind Pushkin’s great poem of impossible love, ‘The Fountain at Bakhchisaray’; and Unquiet World: The Life of Count Geoffrey Potocki de Montalk, which was published to acclaim in 2001 and has been translated into Polish. Stephanie de Montalk was the 2005 Victoria University Writer in Residence, and lives in Wellington.

Praise for Stephanie de Montalk
‘Every once in a rare while, a subject and an author admirably suited to each other connect and the result is a book of outstanding interest and merit. Unquiet World is one such volume . . . like many poets, she writes prose very well. This quality is yet another that lifts this book from the domain of biography into that of literature.’
Michael King, Dominion

‘Fantastically ambitious . . . I think it’s wonderful . . . People will enjoy The Fountain of Tears for the pleasure of reading the prose as well as the slowly unwinding twin stories that they’re engaged with.’ Harry Ricketts, Speaking Volumes, National Radio.

‘De Montalk likes to take on big topics: colonialism, displacements of peoples, varieties of loss, death and grieving. [In The Scientific Evidence of Dr Wang] she operates with a light touch, with an awareness of the cyclical nature of these events.’ John Horrocks, New Zealand Books

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