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Review: Left Over PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 18 November 2013 18:37

By Kobus Moolman

Review by Alan Muller

Something left over might often carry connotations of being unused, unnecessary, unwanted; remnants after the best bits have been taken.  Kobus Moolman’s sixth and newest collection, Left Over, carries none of these connotations and is likely to become the first choice of many poets scholars and gereal readers alike.  Launched on 6th June at the National English Literary Museum in Grahamstown, the collection precedes Moolman’s receipt of the 2013 Solomon Plaatje European Union award for his poem “Daily Duty”.

A reader would do well to avoid any narrow distinctions by labelling this collection as one of ‘poetry’.  While some of the pieces may adopt the conventional narrow column one may commonly associate with ‘poetry’, many others take form of prose poetry, lists or – as fellow UKZN poet Sally-Ann Murray describes – the “flashest of flash fiction”.  By consisting of mostly unnamed pieces that blur genre, this is a collection that resists being read in convenient bite-sized chunks and allows its sense of emerge most clearly when considered as a whole.  Left Over feels like a continuation of Anatomy (2008) and Light and After (2010) in its dealing with feelings of entrapment often associated with the physicality of the body.  The collection expands on this idea by expressing the emotions of an unnamed narrator who is trapped inside an ailing body over which he seems to have little control.

While a number of the pieces deal with physicality, some address the nature and complexity of memory.  The structure of “Fourteen Things No Longer There” reveals the fragmentary and often non-linear nature of thought and memory while exhibiting the speaker’s perhaps subconscious preoccupation with the body and its potential damage.    The epigraph, “Memory is a darkroom for the development of fictions”, by Michael Hamburger not only reflects the collection’s examination of memory and its potential for creativity but also serves as warning to the reader regarding its fictitious nature.  While it is easy (and often tempting) to read texts as autobiographical, it is important to avoid conflating the voices of author and speaker in the context of Left Over.

Moolman’s voice as poet continues to grow in the manner of Light and After as his foreshortened poetry exhibits an efficiency that covers extensive ground and exerts immense pressure with the least possible verbal input.  While the title suggests that there should be something extra, Moolman’s new collection concludes without any feeling of having words left over.  Kobus Moolman’s Left Over, published by Dye Hard Press, is available from most bookstores at a recommended price of R125.  Alternatively, it can be ordered directly from the publisher.