TEXT review

Claire Gaskin, A Bud

review by Gregory A Gould


Claire Gaskin
A Bud
John Leonard Press, Elwood, 2006
ISBN: 0 9775787 0 4
78 pp. Pb. AUD21.95

Claire Gaskin's poems have appeared in many Australian literary journals. A Bud is her first full collection.

Written in a sparse yet poignant style, Gaskin's poems do not hide behind language. In fact, they celebrate it. Gaskin's poems breathe. Their lines are packed with space, that wonderful element of the unspoken that a reader can slip into and explore at their leisure.

Leaning on the language of leaving
and the road a line from a song,
the door smiles open

Gaskin's bare-bones approach has the ability to stop time. Meaning can be boiled down to a series of simple, everyday objects that, upon reflection, have always held some sort of secret significance: a screen door, a verandah railing, a fence post, a water meter, a pen, a word.

The flywire cuts the sky into tiny squares.

Family, home, time and the elements are thematic recurrences throughout the collection, though their repetition does not burden the reader with a sense that the poet is seeking to make a point. They do, however, give the impression that A Bud stalls about halfway. It is as if Gaskin is reluctant to move beyond the images she creates in her first few pieces, and, as a result, many of the later poems often feel like recreations of earlier ideas - albeit, refreshing and wonderfully worked recreations.

Despite this small criticism A Bud is a genuinely engaging read. Gaskin's words are simple but heavy. They never preach nor seek reassurance. Her voice is often playful, yet never frivolous in its expression. These poems seep into the page with a sense of permanency that affords the collection the quality of weight.

The pen on the pain
There is a word
that is chewing at me.

Reading A Bud, one can't help but feel that Gaskin has spent a great deal of time shaping her work, the sign of a poet that enjoys spending time with her words. Through her poems Gaskin sinks her teeth into the world, and by extension invites the reader to do the same. But don't read this book looking for answers, for it doesn't offer any. Instead, read it to find a new way to ask a question.


Gregory A Gould studies creative communication at the University of Canberra. He has had poetry published in First, Block and Page Seventeen. He grew up in far north Queensland.


Return to Contents Page
Return to Home Page

Vol 12 No 2 October 2008
Editors: Nigel Krauth & Jen Webb