Book Reviews

Shards & Figments

Shards & Figments: Poems by Nathalie Buckland
pp. 73 paperback. Nimbin, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-646-90619-5  RRP $15 + P&P.

Shards & Figments is a very moving and heartfelt book of poems covering feelings of aloneness, happiness and the love of people, the earth and nature. It has disturbing and uplifting passages that give you that déjà vu feeling that this is how you have felt yourself at times in your life and that there is a friend here in this book that understands. A pleasurable read that lingers in your memory for a very long time.

Nathalie Buckland is a prolific and widely published writer, in print and online, both in Australia and overseas. This book after a long gestation period is her first collection of poetry, under the one roof one might say.

Most of her poems are grounded in the events of everyday life but seen through the eyes of a sensitive poet. This brings a perception and insight which transforms, “a lantana scratch” and similar into glorious epiphanies and enlightenments.

Lantana eats me
in my dreams
Its aromatic leaves
creep and grasp.
Sandpaper stems
pull beads of blood
from cringing flesh.
(from A Noxious Weed - p. 68)

To perceive the wondrousness in everyday events and then paint word pictures for others to see is the mark of a great poet, Nathalie does this with ease. As Tennyson wrote:

“Little flower – but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is.”

Shards & Figments is a nicely produced book which runs to just over seventy three pages. Many of the poems concern Nimbin in northern NSW where Nathalie has lived for over thirty years, been a school teacher and also raised her own four children.

Some poems have a humorous twist such as Nimbin Mardi Grass (p. 48) where sedate lawn bowlers, “bowlers like plump white geese” are contrasted with the “Mud and Mayhem of Mardi Grass.” Others bring to life deeply serious and emotionally moving matters such as the poems: Boy (about youth suicide); Where Is Your Baby? (concerning child neglect); Street Girl (heroin addiction). The poems will brings tears to your eyes and a jolt into the reality of contemporary life. Nathalie is not afraid to look such reality squarely in the eye and then to help us see and feel further and deeper than we normally would.

Perhaps you'll grasp at life
give it a second chance
let your talents grow
shake off the footpath grime
maybe …
(from Street Girl - p.4)

There is a mistaken idea by many that poetry written in the form of Free Verse is simply lines blurted out like those in a newspaper article, nothing could be further from the truth - it is, “the rolling sweet cadence”, the way words sing in a poem, that separates the amateur from the accomplished poet. Nathalie's poems are full of such “singing-ness” which transforms mere words into exquisite poems.

Outside, the dogs
have done their sniff and snarl,
bloodily wrangled, tangled leads,
lie panting now in wary truce.
(from Family - p. 22)

Poems about a dying father, snakes in the roof, teenagers with attitude and moonless nights are all there in this delightful book. Shards & Figments is absolutely recommended to everyone interested in poetry, contemporary life and for those who would like to add a small token of quality and value to their lives.

Shards & Figments is available:
Direct from Nathalie -
The Nimbin Tourist & Information Centre
Perceptios' Book Shop, Nimbin
Noah's Ark Book Shop, Lismore


More by :  Sandra Joran

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