There are so many layers to this book that it is hard to know where to begin. The poems are beautiful, the stories are moving, and the collection is more a work of art than a book. Each poem has a rawness about it associated with the experience of displacement through refugee status and migration in general.
The compilation of poems is drawn from far and wide. Curating these poems has surely provided an insight into the traumatic lives of those involved - a side of life that many of us never see: war, death, hunger, desperation. These lines in the introduction really sum up the appeal that this collection will have on a diverse range of people: “Diversity if being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance. Some of these poems are about receiving an invitation. Some are about coming to the party and being asked to dance. Others are about being left on the sidelines. All of them add to our understanding of what migrants and refugees have left behind.”
As a nation of predominantly immigrants, the feelings that are evoked as part of the reading process are visceral. Each of the poems is accompanied by a short blurb about the poet’s experience in moving to Aotearoa, their expectations, their fears and their hopes. Some are very recent immigrants and clearly not poets but still pouring their emotional verse onto the page in a cathartic way. They are simple poems, but challenging premises. Poetry can do that for us, create the space and cognitive response to deep emotional hurt and trauma.
Stand out poems include ‘The Rings’ by Brenda Dias, and ‘Song of the Islands’ by Anne Hollier Ruddy beautifully construct the poets’ realities. But none of the poems affect like ‘The Colours of my House’ by Asaid Eshaq - a beautiful mix of such simple language accompanied with deeply moving concepts.
The book is the second collection curated by Adrienne Jansen. The first was titled ‘All of Us’ and released in 2018. As a couple they work in harmony, establishing a position towards migration and enhancing the profile of the refugee status in New Zealand. Both are equally impressively curated and emotionally charged. Highly recommended!
Title: More of Us
Authors: AdrienneJansen with Clare Arnot, Danushka Devinda, and Wesley Hollis
Publisher: Landing Press
Reviewer: Chris Reed, Head of Junior English, Macleans College, Auckland
How are you recommending this book? Highly Recommended
Opening Sentence: In selecting the poems for this collection, we looked for work that in some way spoke of the migration experience.
You can buy this book here