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A Review of Sandra Simpson's Breath
John McManus

Breath by Sandra Simpson.
Piwakawaka Press, Tauranga.(2011)
p.b. $NZ17 including p&p.
Elsewhere contact the author: nzhaiku@gmail.com
ISBN 978-0-473-19150-4.

Sandra Simpson's first collection of haiku is an attractive paperback, perfectly bound and offers a solid sampling of her published work. The book has a brief introduction outlining Sandra's own poetic approach to writing haiku and offers the reader a good idea of what to expect in the pages ahead.

Sandra believes that an observation of a moment is at the heart of haiku. Within a number of the moments Sandra shares with us throughout her collection, there's a real focus on the small things that often go unnoticed . . .

fat spatters of rain
the pulse
in a sparrow's throat

slicing papaya
the swing
of her black pearls

There is of course other aspects to her finely crafted poems. For instance there are poems which employ a concrete effect . . .

country
war
memorial
no
higher| than| a boy|

poems which employ a wicked sense of humour . . .

winter wedding —
the dressmaker's mouth
full of pins

400-year-old windows
thicker at the bottom
all the female cousins

and poems which strike a more sombre tone . . .

the old hurts
resurfacing —
bluebell sky

magpie song —
counting the lines
on my neck

Whilst reading through Breath one cannot fail to see Sandra's talent. Her juxtapositions are striking, her language is brief, but musical and she never fails to transmit the emotion of the poem to the reader. I applaud Sandra for her hard work in producing this delightful collection. It was well worth it!


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