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Born to a Red-Headed Woman

Friday, 1 November 2013 11:02am

Kay McKenzie Cooke

born_to_a_red_headThe book

Using the extraordinary capacity of music to revive the places and people from our pasts, this poetic memoir springs from over 50 song titles or song lines and spans more than four decades.

Laconic, wry, subtly philosophical, Kay McKenzie Cooke’s new collection carries us from her rural Southland girlhood in the 1950s and 60s to the bitter pressures of adopting out her baby as a teenager in the 1970s, and to her present as grandmother, mother, wife and author. A plain-spoken honesty, a sensitivity to the natural world, a gentle humour, a deep sense of how the richness of our relationships lodges in ordinary rituals and routines: all combine in a quietly moving autobiography.

Born to a Red-Headed Woman is documentary, vivid, ever grounded in the workaday detail of farming, the changing decades, family, city life and job. Yet at times the language peels right back to the tender nerve of major, formative losses. If Cooke’s observations of the daily are the simple melodic lines that seem to coast on the surface, beneath that runs a rich bass line of meditation on time, on meaning, how to live a life true to oneself, and to familial love.

The author

KAY McKENZIE COOKE lives in Dunedin. Her first collection, Feeding the Dogs (OUP), won the Montana Book Awards Best First Book of Poetry in 2003. She followed this with Made for Weather (OUP, 2007). Kay is also an award-winning short story writer and keen photographer.

… challenging and fresh … honest in her verse – Otago Daily Times

Publication details

Paperback, 72 pages, ISBN 978 1 877578 87 8, $25
2014