Author(s): Emma Neale
To the Occupant takes the everyday and transforms it into something fine and precious and enduring. With an unsparing attention, Emma Neale creates shape-shifting poems that confound prejudices and subvert expectations. Displaying verve and confidence, her poetry is filled with musicality and dynamic language, always observant to the world and its details. The striking imagery and emotional range of her work never veer into sentimentality. These poems engage with the full spectrum of human emotion and experience, the hauntings of history, the cold hand of social inequality, and the long contrail of intimate cruelties. They challenge the open and latent violence of contemporary life, from refugee crises to rape, poverty and mental illness to climate change, while revealing the extraordinary in the everyday, where a childs-eye view of the world can witness the wonder of the new or the shadow of darkness. Whimiscal typographical experiments and prose poems sit next to reimagined fables (the Big Bad Wolf repurposed as inner demon), deliciously light-handed satire, and quietly powerful insights into the contemporary political terrain. To the Occupant is an innovative and astounding collection from one of New Zealands leading writers of her generation.