Over one hundred Australian and New Zealand performance artists contribute their spoken words to the book Solid Air. These words are packed with punch and ongoing resonance. The variety of pieces ensure accessibility and connection for any reader.
There are windows on lives, countries, cultures where discrimination, hope, love, racism, sexual orientation and migration are but a few of the poetic feasts.
To emphasise meaning and enhance readers’ experience, there is variety in layout (portrait, horizontal) and typeset. Language is contemporary or relevant, e.g a dictionary of Japanese war phrases.
The selection of artists offers a broad cultural taste from Australia to New Zealand, that includes Colonisers, Aborigines, Greece, Italian, Pacifica, and Māori.
John Clarke writes of political indifference over war ‘target zones’ where people just get in the way. One is reminded of Atomic Café where people are conveniently moved aside in the Marshall Islands for nuclear test target zones.
In Pussycat Selina Tusitala Marsh embellishes on an old English nursery rhyme to offer a Pacific perspective on visiting Queen Elizabeth.
There is satire and humour by Damian Cowell who uses Lynch’s Eraserhead to woo his girlfriend.
Daisy Lavea-Timo anchors the reader to Te Reo and nationalism through ‘footy’, promoting Whakamana – empowerment.
Solid Air is an accessible text for students, entertaining for adults and essential reading.
Title: Solid Air : Australian and New Zealand Spoken Word
Author: David Stavanger & Anne-Marie Te Whiu (Eds.)
Illustrator: De Skordilis (Skords)
Publisher: University of Queensland Press
Date of Publication: 2019
Ages: Teens up
Reviewer: Michele Ayres, Librarian, Motueka High School Library, Tasman
Recommendation: Highly Recommended
Book opening sentence: (First poem by Hani Abdile) This beautiful ocean was once a nightmare to me
You can buy this book here