Beauties of the Octagonal Pool

Gregory O’Brien

Format: Paperback, Ebook
Pages: 128
Published: February 2012
Specs: 23.0cm x 16.5cm
ISBN: 9781869405793

Available in Ebook

Gregory O’Brien’s first collection since Afternoon of an Evening Train (2005), Beauties of the Octagonal Pool is centred on the ‘octagonal pool’ of the Waitemata Harbour. Arranged in eight sections, the book collects poems written from and out of a variety of times, locations and experiences, from the water-frontages of Fiji, Fiordland and the Mediterranean to the built history of Moscow and Berlin.

Expansive, charming, wide-ranging, O’Brien’s poetry always has a thoughtful musicality, a shambling romance, a sense of humour. In testament to this, the poem ‘Beauties of the Octagonal Pool’ does not itself appear in the book, having been abandoned after O’Brien became marooned in it, half way through. But its ghostly themes haunt the collection and add ballast to its ambitious eight-part structure – a structure held together by the supremely assured and inviting voice of one of our best poets.


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Some of the love poems in the first section of the book are the most exquisite I have read. – Terry Locke, English in Aotearoa

Lyrical, expansive and thought-provoking in both visual and written content, Beauties of the Octagonal Pool is an excellent collection, and ranks amongst O’Brien’s finest yet. His recent art books and editorial works, such as A Nest of Singing Birds (Learning Media, 2007), have marked him out as one of our best and inventive literary practitioners. This new collection only enhances his reputation. – Siobhan Harvey, Landfall Online

If you like your poems gentle, soft and laid-back Beauties of the Octagonal Pool is the one for you. O'Brien's poems are rewarding. Simple pleasures are always lovely. – Hamesh Wyatt, Otago Daily Times