A Fine Line: A collection of poetry by Dianne Bates (Cyberwit) - Reviewed by Kuen Peters

A Fine Line: A collection of poetry by Dianne Bates (Cyberwit)  - Reviewed by Kuen Peters

A Fine Line: A collection of poetry by Dianne Bates (Cyberwit) - Reviewed by Kuen Peters

I freely admit that there’s much modern poetry that I don’t understand. A lot of it is probably very good and profound, I’m just not smart enough to appreciate it. So it was with some trepidation that I began reading A Fine Line, a collection of poetry by Australian writer Dianne Bates.

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I freely admit that there’s much modern poetry that I don’t understand. A lot of it is probably very good and profound, I’m just not smart enough to appreciate it. So it was with some trepidation that I began reading A Fine Line, a collection of poetry by Australian writer Dianne Bates. However, I’m pleased to say that in this case, my concerns were unfounded. I got these poems. In several instances they moved me, in ways that most poems or prose don’t come close to. These poems were often poignant and powerful; many were startling in their originality, and some were incredibly sad.

I was hooked after reading the first poem in the collection, House Caller. With the poet guiding us, we walk with an intruder through the victim's empty house. What better way to describe the unstoppable determination of a stalker than this: ‘There is no way he can be shut out: he is a shock to the blood’.

 

In the poem When I Am Old the poet mischievously describes what she’ll be like in her senior years:

‘I will swear at bureaucrats

I bowed to in a past life

their bones juicy as spit.

 Those who loved me once

will turn aside

but I will be ready for that

and turn first.’

 

More mischief is on display in Enemy, in which the poet writes of her nemesis:

‘I'd love to give her 40 forty kilos

(just to make her a worthy opponent, you understand)

 and halitosis,

disposition of a bitch

in season.’

 

Sometimes in this collection there are simple words that are packed with great feeling, words which vibrate with a mother’s undying grief for a lost baby. Consider these lines from the poem My Child:

‘Tugging your ear,

a toy bear under your other arm

you stare at me

every day in my office

wearing my old shoes.

Like life, they never fitted.’

In A Fine Line you will find poems about the ache of unrequited love, about obsession, great loss, perhaps even about a time on the fringes of madness. There is also much joy in this book. It is the story of the poet’s life with no holds barred, and it is highly recommended.