This post is part of Verseday, hosted by VerseNovels.com
Lorraine Marwood’s Note on the Door is a mischievously eclectic collection: it’s a smattering of wondering, tangential thoughts about daily life and the tightrope of strangeness and familiarity we walk every day.
Each poem is tiny and contained, and there’s something about them that reminds me of a loop or a curl. They’re an explosion of imagery, but not without trajectory: the final line or image of each poem twists the reader around to bring us back to the title, giving us a poetic punchline.
The collection is divided into five parts, with each part overseeing a particular theme—family life (and extended family life), holidays, school life, and recreation. Marwood has a wonderful ability to collect small but defining moments and render them perfectly in just a handful of words, and also in an utterly accessible manner.
My favourites? There are many phone lingoes in my house, a delightful taxonomy of the “yes, I know”s and “exactly, exactly” backchannels that people use on the telephone:
Me, I just:
Nod my head
sketch in the air
point to the right or left
There’s Our Neighbour, which twists the “cat lady” stereotype with its mention of “Persian princes on her knee”; and Shopping With Mum, a square-peg-round-hole study in the geometry of supermarket items:
We race to see how many
of our favourite shapes
are needed to fill
the not quite rectangle
not quite triangle
push of Mum’s shopping trolley
Watch Your Sister, about the lure of fairytale worlds over the drudge of minding a sibling; and Grandmother, where a grandmother challenges her grandchild’s fairytale stereotypes:
My knight was tanned
from motorbike riding
as he chased charging cattle
Look, my hair is as long
as a wave on a silver beach
I can coil it on top
to make my own crown
There’s a sense of this volume almost being poetry by accident, of each poem being a throwaway thought or a piece of found poetry: the titular poem, for example, references the famous found poem This is just to say. I think in part that’s what’s so wonderful about this little book as a collection of poetry for young readers. It feels so lively and effortless, with a seeming simplicity that may just encourage a poetry newcomer to step over that scary threshold into the world of verse. A delightful read all round.
With thanks to Walker Books Australia for the review copy