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Reviewed by Chris Reed, Auckland
Opening sentence
Voices sing from the archive: a choir of breakers on a North Taranaki beach. Two women born more than a hundred years apart tell stories of love and loss in the shadow of the mountain that is always there.
Michele Leggott served New Zealand as poet laureate from 2007–2009, and her writing has continued to deliver thoroughly lyrical, stunningly visceral and increasingly historical constructions that demonstrate her immense talent as one of New Zealand’s foremost poets.

Leggott takes a different approach in her new collection Face to the Sky that parallels the world of Taranaki a hundred years earlier. Mirroring her own experience with that of Emily Cumming Harris – a painter also from Taranaki – Leggott beautifully draws together the two worlds and melodic and wonderfully connects the experiences through her poems.

One thing that strikes the reader is the similarity between the two worlds, despite the time scales. There are similar issues, similar thoughts, similar loves and similar losses. Perhaps it is the universality that really comes through more than anything else.

Challenging in its complexity, the poems suit older audiences and require a lot of contextual knowledge and unpacking as part of a learning programme; however, as a result of their effort, students can explore worlds and experiences through the eyes of one of New Zealand’s finest.
Publisher: Auckland University Press
ISBN: 9781776711031
Format: Paperback
Publication: April 2023
Ages: 13+
Themes: Love & Loss