Cinema by Helen Rickerby

(Makaro Press, 2014)

Review by Anna Hudson

The poetry of Helen Rickerby’s Cinema is as broad and free as the eclectic mix of big screen productions from which it draws inspiration. It is a perfectly paced memoir that takes the reader on a journey through poetic vignettes based around the theme of cinema. The works are immediately accessible with an often whimsical element that belies the artistry of imagery such as:

and I’ve never before seen a boy run backwards
or tea pouring itself
up into the pot

These are for the most part intimate poems with their own unique form however there are themes and repetitions that glue the work together. Poems about the lives of the poet’s friends as directed by famous directors is one such motif scattered through the collection. My personal favourite being the highly amusing “Brian’s life, as directed by Brian directing director Sergio Leone”:

and I’ll be chewing something
straw, a wood chip
whatever you like, it doesn’t really matter
but it shows I’m calm

“Coming of Age of New Zealand Film” is another wonderful parody, sure to raise a smile for anyone old enough to remember the gloomy intensity of Vigil and other such masterpieces of early New Zealand film.

She may see
One or other
Of her parents
Having sex with the stranger
Maybe through a partially opened doorway
She will probably run away

At times this work could seem light and overly nostalgic, more a collection of clever lines however there are darker and more experimental pieces. “A bell, a summons, a forest” and “Symbols that make up the breaking girl” being two such works. Even so, this is probably not a work for those who read poetry in order to bemoan the misery of man or decipher universal truths from random and obscure references.

In essence Cinema is a love story. About love of cinema, love of poetry, love of good friends and of course true love.