One of New Zealand’s most versatile writers, Fiona Farrell has published four collections of poetry over 25 years, from Cutting Out (1987) to The Broken Book (2011). Noun, verbs, etc. collects the best work from these books, and intersperses them with other poems thus far ‘uncollected’. The themes are wide ranging: political and personal, regional and global, including love and birth and death, war and emigration, history and landscape. The poems mix lyricism with the flat and plainspoken mode of Kiwi vernacular; they channel voices infrequently heard in poetry in traditional song and ballad forms. They are well crafted but unpretentious, jokey yet illuminating, self-deprecating but wise, sad and funny and deeply human. Fiona Farrell’s poems look light and lyrical and tidy on the page, which is the way they manage the storms of feeling that race along their lines. These are poems that know how much we yearn for terra firma yet how often we must deal with broken things. They care about family. They speak against injustice. They also know how to rescue the heart and let it sing. – Bill Manhire
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