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Reviewed by Nell Mace-David
Opening sentence
“These poems riot in harmony. These poems roam the streets looking for a fight, question who we are and who we are growing into… These poems decolonize and re-indiginise, swim in the moana, reshape the word ‘home’.”
In Rapture, edited by Carrie Rudzinski and Grace Iwashita-Taylor, but written by many, you can find a poem you relate to, no matter who you are. Don’t believe me? Read it and see.

Summing up the poems in this book in a paragraph was hard, and I’m probably not doing any of them justice, but I thought a couple of my personal favorites deserved a mention. One of the first poems in the book made a particular impression on me, Apology by Tusiata Avia, which is a complete feminist anthem. The poem embraces the fact that we own our bodies, no matter what anyone else wants to make you believe. My other favorite poem was A Poem about Being Human in Five Parts by Sara Hirsch, which is kind of self-explanatory. It probably describes the essence of being human better than anything I have ever read. And that is just a taste of these poems.

Rapture is a diverse and empowering anthology, with a poem, and a voice, for every occasion.

Picking a poetry book to review was definitely out of my comfort zone. I enjoy reading poetry (sometimes) and I have recently taken to writing poetry, but reviewing it? I found it a very daunting task, especially as there is something about poetry that is so much more intimate than a novel. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good novel, but poetry, in my mind anyway, is like a cross between a piece of writing and music. There is so much emotion that goes into it, and reading these poems I could feel that emotion. You don’t have to know the poet to understand how they feel, and critiquing someone’s feelings wasn’t something I was entirely willing to do.

But critique I must do because that’s kind of what I was given the book for. These poems were beautiful, they tore me down and lifted me up again. But they were more beautiful alone than they were together. And this isn’t the fault of the poets, it is more of an editing flaw. What I mean to say is that coming out of one poem and into the next was clunky and disjointed. I lost the flow of the whole thing, and that is what an anthology is all about: flow. They don’t have to be all the same, or feel the same, but when they fit, they fit, and to me, they didn’t.

So, the way the book was put together didn’t resonate with me, but the individual poems certainly did. One thing I was surprised about was the amount of diversity. Not one poem was the same, even the same subject came through in such a different voice. And it wasn’t that I was surprised that this existed, because we’re all unique, of course it does. I was more surprised by the fact it was represented, no matter that it is usually left lurking in the shadows, and this was a very good thing. And, please, don’t discredit this book because it was written by performance poets. These poems translate as well to the page as anything, and they introduced me to a new artform that I was previously unaware of.

The other issue I had was along the same lines as the flow thing. Honestly, I didn’t really connect with how the poems were categorised. As you can tell from the title, all the poets have a connection to New Zealand, which was great. But within the book, the poems are put in three categories: Burn it Down, Float, and Re-Earth Your Roots. There would be moments where I felt those themes, but it wasn’t a continuous thread like I would have liked, particularly in the last two sections.

All in all, I would recommend this if you are looking for a powerful and unique collection of poems, and are 14+, though adults would enjoy it too. If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, then it probably isn’t, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But give it a go, you might surprise yourself. Happy reading!

- Nell is 15, homeschooled, and lives in Dunedin
Publisher: Auckland University Press
ISBN: 9781869409807
Format: Paperback
Publication: 2023
Ages: 14+
Themes: Poetry