At the Gates of the Theme Park (Peter Norman)

I think Peter's an awesome guy, so I'm biased, but I loved this book, his first. The poems read in most instances like mini-narratives written from a character's perspective rather than the typical ego-based lyrics. My favourite poems have a certain “soft surrealism” to the imagery. Even more conventional images are conveyed in a certain dreamlike fashion — as in this example, where a fairly normal event is relayed in such a way that it becomes an almost nightmarish image, thus encapsulating the speaker's sense of failure (this emotion repeats in other images in other stanzas):

My boss returned the annual report.
I'd written it. He'd circled things in red
that needed fixing. So I fixed those things
and sent it back. He sent it back again.
A dozen circles blotted every word.

Because I am obsessed with crows, I need to also quote another great image, great not only because it contains crows:

Three crows gather
on the wire that runs to your eaves.
When you look again
they are doves.

A great debut, and Norman's eye for detail has me eagerly awaiting his forthcoming novel Emberton.

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Jonathan Ball is a writer, filmmaker, and scholar living at www.jonathanball.com.

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