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The Pistils

Monday 31 August 2020 10:13am

Janet Charman

The book

Charman Pistils websiteChuck open the curtains
slap of sun
clothes sworn never to be worn again
put on
that nipple revealing pocketless top
buttoned to the neck
these thrush egg blue pajama pants
extra large elasticated waist
deranged lights pulled free of browned green tree
rubbish ornaments
find a respite with the League of Nations dolls
packed away on a case by case basis
Palestine Kashmir Timor Darfur Parihaka
rearrange the furniture so the kids
don’t feature
eat up the fruit

− ‘Xmas–New Year’

The Pistils is a dispatch from the cusp of change. It appears at the severing of a 40-year relationship following the illness and death of poet Janet Charman’s partner during the Covid restrictions.

Here, she chronicles her experience with transition – to the digital age, to single life, to carbon neutral. She dissects her Pākehā sensibilities towards colonizing privilege as well as her gender-critical feminist’s astonishment at attacks from allies in the realm of sexual politics.

In The Pistils, Charman regards her separation from her grown children in the light of her own parents’ deaths. And she looks to a future in which the crises she anticipates, both personal and environmental, are treated as no less inevitable than they will be mysterious.

The author

Janet Charman is one of New Zealand’s sharpest and most subversive writers. In 2008 she won the Montana Book Award for Poetry for her sixth collection, Cold Snack. In 2009 she was a Visiting Fellow at the International Writers’ Workshop of Hong Kong Baptist University. In 2014 she appeared as a Guest Reader at the Taipei International Poetry Forum. Her collection 仁 Surrender (2017, OUP) chronicles her writing residencies in Hong Kong and Taiwan. This is her ninth collection of poetry.

Reviews & Interviews

Interview: Janet Charman on Standing Room Only with Lynn Freeman Listen
Review: Sophie van Waardenberg for Academy of New Zealand Literature Read
Review: Chris Tse for Nine to Noon Listen
Review: Paula Green for NZ Poetry Shelf Read
Review: Siobhan Harvey for Kete Books Read

Publication details

Paperback, 230 x 150
ISBN 9781990048333, $25