Review: Nathan Curnow: The Right Wrong Notes

Nathan Curnow: The Right Wrong Notes

Published 2015 ASM & Cerberus Press, with Flying Island Books

Reviewed for The Rochford Street Review: A Journal of Australian & International Cultural Reviews, News and Criticism.

This is a collection of 59 selected poems from previous and recent publications including No Other Life But This, The Ghost Poetry Project, RADAR, with recent works appearing in The Rialto, Meanjin and Land Before Lines.

Curnow displays an interesting ensemble of moments, memories, and experiences through prose form, traditional stanza and some nice extended prose like Gently Against the Grain (pg 76). There are some very tender moments in the poems dedicated to his daughters, his wife and his father – an overarching theme as he reflects on fatherhood, or the implicated fatherhood, family and life. I particularly enjoyed Goal Cat (pg 32) for the characterisation of the cat in question. As a performance poet you can feel the message in a lot of Curnow’s prose. His pacing and rhythm delivers a sound punch and gentle ebb purposefully placed with such gems as Broadarrow Café, Port Arthur (pg 49), The Doctor Asks the Elderly Poet to Read the Eye Chart, and Norman Lindsay upon visiting the Ballarat Art Gallery to discover that the entire family room he grew up in has now been donated and is now on permanent display (pg 74). Curnow’s writing is skilful and fluid, organising imagery so much without trying. His observations in Violent Light (pg 78), Slip Ice (pg 76) and I am the lion on the edge of your bed who has come to eat your heart (pg 72) delivers fascinating insights and snapshots surmounted into a short, sharp glimpse of the individual’s lives he portrays. An honest, reflective account of moments, memories, and experiences. Thoroughly enjoyable.