Lakes of Mars
The Lakes of Mars is a stunning new collection of poems by Chris Orsman that follow on from his most recent book, South: An Antarctic Journey, a sequence about Captain Scotts final expedition to Antarctica. These new poems are a characteristic mix of thoughtful reflection and precise imagery of landscape and object. Chris Orsman captures the plainness of life with a visual clarity, but always pushes his descriptions further, broadening the poems into intellectual and moral meaning. He is also particularly good at vividly recreating historical moments, while evoking the gifts and loss of the past. The first part of The Lakes of Mars encompasses the Wellington hills, a wonderful long poem of the camera and its nostalgia, Instamatic, the light art of Bill Culbert, and a total stock of words. The second and third parts, The Lakes of Mars and The Book of the Dead, were inspired by Orsmans 1998 trip to the Antarctic as inaugural recipient of an Artists to Antarctica Fellowship. The New Zealand Antarctic poem is now a settled form, but Orsman was one of its originators and, as these poems prove, a true master of it. The poems in The Lakes of Mars are distinctive, scrupulous, splendid they have much to offer an attentive reader.
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