Aspiring Light: Tititea Ma by Robynanne Milford (Pukeko Publications, 2015), 119 pp., $25; Where the Fish Grow by Ish Doney (Hoopla: Mākaro Press, 2016), 50 pp., $25: Dance of Blue Dragonflies by Ron Riddell (Printable Reality, 2016), 73 pp., $25
Robynanne Milford’s eclectic, sometimes gutsy text, Aspiring Light: Tititea Ma, uses both poetry and prose. It is an interpretation of the Wanaka/Mt Aspiring region, often using Māori words and concepts. It gives back to the mountain its original name, Tititea, while also retaining its European name, Aspiring.
The author has a medical training and uses some of the apparatus of scholarship. This fuses with myth and anecdote. In a sense it is a poetic mini-thesis with non-academic intentions that sacralises Tititea and, to a lesser extent, Wanaka. The lake stands as calm amid the dynamic, sometimes violent upthrust of ice and mountain. Milford has a generous breadth of reference that takes in the natural world, Māori and Pākehā culture, art and metaphysics. Many Pākehā works are used directly: paintings by Rita Angus, John Thompson, John Drawbridge, William Fox and Sofia Minson, historical photographs and a photograph by Martin Hill illustrate the book. Quotation from, or glosses on poetry by Baxter and Bernadette Hall, and allusion to and interpretation of music by Douglas Lilburn are present here. [Read more…]