These paper boats of mine are meant to dance on the ripples of hours, and not reach any destination... Rabindranath Tagore

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past...F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby

We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.
On the way to the river are the old dormitories, used for something else now, with their fairy-tale turrets, painted white and gold and blue. When we think of the past it's the beautiful things we pick out. We want to believe it was all like that.
--from Margaret Atwood - The Handmaid's Tale

Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another's skin, another's voice, another's soul.
- Joyce Carol Oates

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Poetry of The Midnight Zoo

Gypsy child
In a world of rumbling 
12 year old Andrej
Leads 9 year old Tomas
And both share a Mum role for
Baby Wilma

Imagine these shreds of life
In the cloak of midnights
Stumbling into a zoo

For a star gate of  
Magical time
The animals who sense more than
You will ever know

Try to tell you

And Alice
In her dark
Woollen cloak 
To lead them all

p.1 ...the tower now stood against the sky like a blunt unfinished question.
p.3 They were younger than Night had ever been, two scraps of life with scanty limbs clad in worn jackets and boots.
p.91 We Rom are closer to the animals than to people like that. Unburdened, unowned and free.
p.155 But there are many kinds of hungers.
p.157 Her muzzle wrinkled, and Andrej saw a glimpse of teeth and pale tongue. 'They smell the same,' the lioness murmured. 'My cubs smelt as she does. Like pollen.'
p.162 These are cages, so there must be keys.

The Midnight Zoo (2010) - Sonya Hartnett


  The Midnight ZooThe Midnight Zoo by Sonya Hartnett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Here is a novel about children but hardly for children. It needs an adult audience (touting some historical baggage) who seeks a glimpse of a child's world. Here are the Rom, those gypsy wanderers persecuted alongside the Jews in Hitler's madness. And Andrej, Tomas and Wilma are parentless, Rom children. But don't seek some historical jaunt. Feel the cursed? wandering spirit of a child seeking answers of place and identity. What is freedom? There are many kinds of freedoms and hungers. The animals know.
This novel has the fantasy of a parable and the realism of a holocaust.
Imagine these shreds of life
In the cloak of midnights
Stumbling into a zoo
- Extract from my poetic review on my blog Songlines on the Winds

View all my reviews

N.B. Sparkle and Nightflower (1986) - The first book I read by Sonya Hartnett.
A delicious journey of mother and son through some tawdry, weathered inner and outer landscapes.
I read it aloud - cover to cover - to my wild, "non-reading" bunch of Year 10's at the time, and they loved it!

Linking to:
dVerse Open Link Night

1 comment:

Brian Miller said...

pretty cool review through verse....will have to check it 9 year old may enjoy it....once we finally finish the last harry potter book...we've been reading them together straight through since christmas

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