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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 12, Number 2, June 2018
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Patricia Prime
Auckland, New Zealand

Review of Robert Davey's Resewing Sunlight

Robert Davey, Resewing Sunlight, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016, 52 pages, ISBN: 9781541030015, Available on Amazon.com.

Robert Davey writes haiku, tanka and haibun. His work has been published in Blithe Spirit, Frogpond, Contemporary Haibun Online and Haibun Today. His collection, Resewing Sunlight, conjures the gentleness, power, melancholy, love, conciseness and humanity that runs through his work.

The book opens with “Wheat Fields” and straightaway we are introduced to Davey’s family – coupled with his story-telling manner and control of structure and metre:

When Mum was going through her van Gogh phase Dad would drive us out to Chosen Hill on Sundays. He would park just off one of the lanes and we kids would pile out to play in the fields.

It is essential for haibun to have “life." By this I mean energy, vitality and the ability to stimulate the reader’s mind. Take “Ducklings," a haibun that grips us from the start, and carries us through a narrative that is threaded with the poet’s gift for directness, wonderment and humour, as we see in this paragraph about his brother’s misadventure:

Downstairs, on the doorstep, was one of our neighbours, his trousers and jacket dripping, yelling at my mum. Behind him were my sister, crying, and my six-year old brother looking scared.

In the haibun, “Nocturnal," the poem tells us about the fourteen-year-old boy listening to the radio at night:

At fourteen I started listening to the radio at night. I always tuned to Radio Luxembourg. Free from British broadcasting restrictions it was the best station for pop.

I love the scenarios the poet sets up – they remind me of my own childhood.

Davey has a natural and persistent curiosity, which he clearly delights in exercising. But his exploration of his upbringing and family history are never tedious or long-winded: he revels in form, line and rhythm to produce precision. “Cenote” is a haibun describing climbing down into a cavern and is a subject without subjectivity – with an observer’s eye – and the power of words in which he describes dread, cold, shadow and water is fine language:

I dive in, momentarily cold. Catfish glide past. There is no sign of the bottom. I surface and swim towards the dazzling centre.

“Skin” recounts an ugly wound “covered by clothes most of the time.” The haibun make us take notice, to listen to a persona telling a story. In “Fossil Hunters," we meet the poet’s son who had “always liked fossils." Father and son head to the beach with their rock hammers to search for fossils:

We set to, splitting pebbles with our hammers. Most contained only bland rock. My son made the first find, a group of tiny Ammonites.

Resewing Sunlight is a gentle, reflective collection that has compassion, a fine eye for detail and deep sincerity.

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