The Stag Head Spoke
PoemsBook - 2014
Shortlisted for the CAA Award for Poetry
Having taken over a decade to write, Erina Harris' first full-length work comprises two serial poems or "Books" within which individual poems stand on their own, and also refract amongst themselves, building, within each Book, its own careful language. Harris engages historic modes such as the sonnet and the elegy, song and nonsense verse traditions, the fairy tale, and various theatrical traditions, and then deploys postmodernist poetic devices to introduce new questions regarding the ways traditional forms and the ideas these represent demand reinvention. Here, she stretches sonnet and elegy forms, asking if these can engage communities of interconnected voices, and if so, how must they be reimagined? Responding to contemporary discussions ranging from feminist poetics to ecopoetics, Book One employs the trope of childhood and nonsense verse to consider human relationships with sense, place and animals. In Book Two, the elegy becomes an interminable thing. It enacts a grieving and harmed song-play mourning the suicide of a close female friend and attempts to express the condition of grief through a community of mourners. Throughout, the device of rhyme is innovatively reborn as part of Erina's continuous interest, as poet and scholar, in the phenomenon of rhyme.