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Reviewed by Phillippa Hibbs, English Teacher, Auckland
Opening sentence
She is walking at the edge of the sea on the wet shining sand.
In her thematic collection of poems, Adrienne Jansen explores the place of the sea in New Zealand culture.

In these poems, the sea and the beach become places of ‘ordinary brilliance’, where intimate scenes of familiar activities – digging in the sand, walking along the tide, observing passing strangers – become moments of beauty, reflection, and connection with the past.

These are poems that grow stronger when read together. Veterans knit on a bench overlooking the beach, women dig for kai moana in the sand, a priest takes a moment of reflection with his feet in the water and his eyes turned to the sky: the imagery gently presents ocean scenes that, taken together, build a picture of the many ways in which life in Aotearoa New Zealand is coloured by our relationship with the sea.

The poems have an intimate, conversational tone, and are perfect for readers who might usually struggle with poetry. Whilst the language is unadorned and accessible, the ideas and themes explored across the collection are deep enough for high level discussion. These poems could be the basis for conversations about impacts on our environment, relationships between generations, ideas of otherness, and the nature of New Zealand cultural identity.
Publisher: Escalator Press
ISBN: 9780473645397
Format: Paperback
Publication: Oct 2022
Ages: 13+ years
Themes: Nature, belonging, community, kiwi identity