Thursday 10 October 2019

Learning to Have Lost by Oz Hardwick

Oz Hardwick’s collection of prose poems Learning to have lost  the passing of time, memory, old age, illness, death and how these resonate and move within and around each other . True to form, Hardwick achieves a sense of a musical refrain and rhythm underpinning and connecting this absorbing collection. While the subject matter is weighty and the pain from the litany of loss candidly expressed, a resolute humour asserts itself throughout that is sometimes sinister, sometimes surreal, often surprising and enormously engaging.
Goodreads description

I was fortunate to hear Oz Hardwick read from this collection and from his most recent book The Lithium Codex at the Poetry Cafe Refreshed in Cheltenham. Both are collections of prose poems - put simply poems without line breaks, or prose with the rhythm and sensibilities of poetry. But that definition does not do prose poetry justice, it combines elements of both prose and poetry, existing in some sort of liminal space, not unlike magic realism. Maybe that is why I found so much magic realism in these poems. 

In Graduation a man opens his old school bag and sees that the books had all grown back into trees, with damp grass all around, and there were birds, like notes on telegraph wires, singing a song he'd written in an abandoned bandstand. The Universal Petting Zoo opens with the words Every time she returns from feeding the animals, she is smallerI could go on quoting sublime bits from every poem, where reality shifts as you read and suddenly you are somewhere else, somewhere no less true. I love the way Oz Hardwick's poems riff. It isn't a surprise that  Hardwick is also a musician. Nor was I surprised to hear that Hardwick is influenced by Richard Brautigan ( I reviewed Brautigan's Sombrero Fallout in this blog here). 

I love this slim book of poetry. Do buy a copy, but guard it. I lent my copy to my husband and had to fight to get it back!