Friday, September 14, 2012

Hot hot hot: Say So by Dora Malech

Dora Malech's latest book, Say So was bought on auto-buy. Ever since I heard her read at The Wellington City Gallery in 2007 I was permanently sold. Hinemoana reckoned it was because she was pretty. And she was hot, I admit it, but so was her poetry, like nothing else I'd heard.

And 'hot' is a good word for her work I think. The poems are like little language boilers, the words bounce off each other, they steam up and bubble over. Sometimes it feels like she is playing word association games, tumbling around randomly and then somehow, and I don't really know how, she pulls it all together into something profound. This is not easy to do, but she does it over and over again, sometimes more successfully, but always with a skill and intelligence that is infectious. If one of her poems seem like a boiled surface at first, after a few more reads and a narrative or at least a common subject starts to rise up and show itself. They are brilliant.

Her work hasn't changed too much is style or voice from her earlier work. The concerns are the same and the result is the same. Say So seems like a small progression, in that way visual artists (and Dora is also a visual artist) progress their work, in incremental steps. I guess the idea being nobody gets it if you do that thing once, but if you do it a hundred times, you inch your way toward the artistic horizon.

With this book I am beginning to see the brains as well as the beauty.

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