Jack Ross, ed.: brief 30 - Kunst (November 2004)
Harvey McQueen, Recessional. Wellington: HeadworX, 2004. ISBN 0-476-00271-0. 80 pp. RRP $19.95.
Harvey McQueen: Recessional (2004)
“Poems of a miserable old git,” is one description I’ve heard of Harvey McQueen’s Recessional (“Lo, all our pomp of yesterday / Is one with Nineveh and Tyre,” as Kipling put it in his own poem of that title). That sounds a bit negative, doesn’t it? Strangely enough, I think it translates into quite a compliment. Miserable Old Gits, or Middle-Aged Daddies (MOGs or MADs) need a spokesman too, and McQueen makes an unusually eloquent one. I found myself marking poem after poem as I read through: the shocking power of “A Partial Answer to an Old Question:”
childhood’s question “What
would it be like to be a girl?” answered
as far as it ever can be for me; also for
those strangled because they are women.
– an answer given (appropriately) by TV serials. It’s difficult to quote, as the poems are such organic wholes: the “Two slaughters that / helped assemble my existence” in “Bayeux” must be deduced to be D-Day and the Battle of Hastings – McQueen won’t tell us directly. If we don’t know already we’re not worth talking to.