I’ve always enjoyed living in a country where we are never far from the sea, with all its flotsam and jetsam, its stories. And each poem has its story. One has the poet finding ‘a note / in a beached bottle / crisping and faded.’ Another has a boyhood memory of reading war comics and making a game of soldiers armed with driftwood. Another poem, a tribute to his brother Tony, has memories of: the wind whispering in the marram, the glint of a fish smoker, old rope and tartan, resin and red wine, and a hint of what’s over the horizon.
In many poems there is a sense of the pleasure of making things – kites, model aeroplanes, boats to prepare, wood to turn, meals to cook, songs to compose – and writing the poems themselves. As Ron says of his model aeroplane poem, that is ‘a small tribute to dreamers, visionaries and eccentrics, to the curious and creative.’ He adds: ‘we need dreamers and people who make interesting and beautiful things, and not necessarily to the accepted blueprints.’ I think that applies equally to this book – though poems are also a special kind of thing to make. In Ron’s words: ‘Poets make no machines / and only build roads in the mind / backwood roads that butt / through a dry paper world.’
My congratulations to Ron for building so many roads in the mind for us. Congratulations also to his son, Duncx for the illustrations.
Many of you will know Ron for his work in communication and PR – such as his previous book ‘Talking with your People’ – but in his poetry book he is still very much engaged in communication since these are poems we can all enjoy and relate to. It’s a fine collection.
- Roger Horrocks, writer, filmmaker, Emeritus Professor – University of Auckland (from his introduction for Ron at the launch of Houses of the Small Sea Dead)