‘You have to start somewhere / in these morose times’ begins the title sequence of this collection, in which the dual, duelling lifeguards of east and west, sunrise and sunset, glib Narcissus and one-eyed Polyphemus, watch over a collection that explores the contradictions between life’s pool-side surfaces and frightening undertows.
Ian Wedde’s poet laureate collection, dedicated to his grandchildren Bella and Sebo, opens with a major new series ‘The Lifeguard’, and finishes with a second long sequence, ‘Shadow Stands Up’, in which a world of Platonic memory and tidal recurrence is observed from a window-seat in Auckland’s conspicuously green-branded Link bus. In poems that are a complex mix of rhapsody, fear, and humour, The Lifeguard is on the lookout for ‘arms upraised / where the surf breaks against its own backwash’ – Bella’s and Sebo’s future, full of hope and danger.
Bringing together work from the past five years by one of our most outstanding contemporary poets, The Lifeguard shows Wedde at his thoughtful surprising best, building ‘these lattices and / filigrees of words through which / the light slips, where the shadow / stands up, and we remember’.
More about Ian Wedde
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You can almost smell the coast in these poems. - Melanie Wittwer
As you would expect from Wedde, The Lifeguard — his fifteenth book of poetry, and the product among other things of his tenure as New Zealand Poet Laureate — is unsettling, extending, structurally daring, linguistically gymnastic, emotionally enormous, uplifting, and funny. Its ecopoetry calls us to action. - Anne Kennedy, Landfall Review
Wedde’s poetry of place resounds into the collective consciousness. - Anne Kennedy, Landfall Review