Ockham Shortlist 2019: ‘The Facts’ by Therese Lloyd
Below is an excerpt from the poetry collection The Facts by Therese Lloyd, which is shortlisted for this year’s Mary and Peter Biggs Award for Poetry at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.
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About the poet:
Therese Lloyd’s poems have appeared in publications including Sport, Landfall, Hue & Cry, Jacket2, Metro, Turbine, and the AUP series New Zealand Poets in Performance. In 2007, having received a Schaeffer Fellowship, she spent a year attending the acclaimed Iowa Writer’s Workshop. In 2017, she completed a PhD at the International Institute of Modern Letters, in which she examined the role of ekphrasis in Canadian poet Anne Carson’s work. In 2018 Therese was Writer in Residence at the University of Waikato.
About the book:
This superb second book by the author of the acclaimed 2013 collection Other Animals traces the course of a failing marriage, while illuminating the ways in which art and poetry are essential to life. Deeply felt and lyrically arresting, The Facts offers poems that move with honesty and formal intelligence through matters of creativity and love.
‘The Facts is a searing meditation on loss and art, lodged in the mid-point between beginning and end. Time is stretched, distorted and folded: what was there and then what was not. It is a marriage, an affair, a hesitation, pohutakawa flowers, and a surface “eclipsed by shadow days of nosleep”. It leaves a burn mark….Lloyd writes her own poems with the same intensity as late-afternoon sun. The Facts is raw and “Fierce in its interrogation of the living” that explores the intersection between art and life.’
(From a review for Metro magazine by Toyah Webb, June 2018)
A Day, January
That’s when it was, so let’s look at that.
In the muted sun on the sharp-shelled beach
all the broken pieces
yet nothing pierced the skin of my feet
the sharpness cancelled out
to a homogeneous rubble.
I walked home from the karakia
I walked a long way, the furthest I’ve been able to
since my spine decided to twist itself in the wrong direction.
Backs take the strain of the invisible things
the harder they are to see, the heavier they are to carry.
I walked towards the dot of my house
carrying that image
of eleven young men
trying to lift a tree trunk
out of the wet sand
of a beach that couldn’t care less.
That severed trunk wasn’t defiant, or obtuse.
It had no intention to kill when it stranded itself
unclenched from the ground by a storm. And the thing
that made it impossible for those men to move it,
the water, lapping, pulsing up around them as they heaved breathless
had already begun, a slow disposal, a gradual return.
© Therese Lloyd, 2018, published in The Facts, Victoria University Press.
'Novels stand outside time, with their narrative structure of beginning, middle and end. They outlast politics, which are by nature ephemeral, swift and changeable and can quickly become invisible, detectable only to the skilled eye. ' - Fiona Farrell