Saturday, November 20, 2010

Otago Daily Times review of A Tingling Catch

The following brief review of A Tingling Catch appeared in the Otago Daily Times last Saturday:


Collection of cricketing poems delivers the goods

In my childhood it seemed that Dad’s transistor played undertaker in the summery garden, blaring out the sad tidings every summer in the days when New Zealand’s team was bowling fodder for the Windies, Australia, England and just about anyone else.
A Tingling Catch resurrects some of the names from 40 years ago along with some much earlier ones. Those bearded worthies include colonial politician William Pember Reeves, nationalists Thomas Bracken and David McKee Wright, and mid-20th century poet and broadcaster Arnold Wall. The more recent poets include editor Mark Pirie, Brian Turner, Harvey McQueen, Kevin Ireland, David Eggleton, Elizabeth Smither, Michael O’Leary and (naturally) Harry Ricketts.
Pirie organised his book thematically around topics such as players, matches and tours, songs, satires and parodies, watchers and listeners, and social cricket.
I particularly enjoyed Michael O’Leary’s contributions. In ‘Hey man, Wow!’ O’Leary has Jimi Hendrix batting against New Zealand. Two pages on, Bob Marley is also batting:

Is it four, is it four, is it four
That I’m scoring
Is it four, is it four, is it four
That I’m scoring

Later he has the poets out on the pitch, Lord Byron, Oscar Wilde and James K. Baxter.
Many poems recall personal experiences, or tributes such as Brian Turner’s to Ken Wadsworth or Harry Ricketts’ ‘Epitaph for an old cricketer’:

Death’s sharp offcutter
has bowled you through the gate.

Old controversies are resurrected, none more infamous than the great 1981 under-arm bowling incident, with Whim Wham (Allen Curnow) poking fun at Rob Muldoon and Malcolm Fraser’s verdicts on the Chappells’ sportsmanship.
I’m no expert, but I felt that Mark Pirie has judged line and length just right. A Tingling Catch offers a crowded gear-bagful of work and is well-supported by explanatory notes and a thorough index of poems.

Dr McLean is a Wellington historian and reviewer

(from Otago Daily Times, Saturday, 13 Novembe 2010, p. 53)

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