Jack Ross, ed.: brief 29 (April 2004)
Anne Kennedy, Sing-song. Auckland: AUP, 2003. ISBN 1-86940-295-2. 128 pp. RRP $24.99.
Anne Kennedy: Sing-song (2003)
“These are dangerous days” announces the epigraph of Anne Kennedy’s new book Sing-song. The blurb tells us that this book of poems “seems a natural progression from her fiction,” which does indeed appear to be the case. The “dangerous days” quote is attributed both to Sinéad O’Connor and Janet Frame, which might be said to give us some clue to the territory Kennedy inhabits. It’s not the Winnie-the-Pooh world of Anna Jackson, nor the haunted tundras of Hardacre or Howard. It’s a realm where intelligence doesn’t contradict feeling, where domesticity is not the antithesis of Bohemian chic. The poems, it is true, work better as a sequence than as individuals – there’s some wordiness, some lack of focus from time to time – but that’s essential to her intention, I feel. They steal up on you; they’re disarming. A verse novel, then? That’s a horrible albatross to fasten on anyone, and it wouldn’t be true to accuse this book of being that. Certainly it requires careful, cumulative reading to achieve its effects: in that sense it is prosaic, but it’s worth the trouble.