Thursday, 9 October 2014

Book Review - The Poetry of Home by Cameron Semmens

Reviewed by Dale Harcombe

Occasionally a book come along that captures your heart. That was the case with this book. I fell in love with this poetry collection from the beginning. The poetry is fresh and accessible, and uses interesting imagery. I am always a sucker for poetry with inventive imagery. Imagery is one of my favourite aspects of poetry.

The poetry is at times playful and humorous, at other time serious, but it is always thoughtful and thought provoking. I liked the ideas expressed about home in ‘Being Here and The Sweet Splendour of The Everyday’ and the pictures presented. I liked ‘Routine is a nice frame/ for a spot of spontaneity/ Everything looks better in a frame.’ And I could associate with the love for buttons, and ‘those occasional free-range button days’ where the poet dreams of other places but then puts them into context of the rest of his life.

I like the interposing of the full moon through the window with the boxer imagery of ‘Sting like a beam’ and the humour and clever flowered imagery of ‘The Force of a Thousand Flowers ‘that begins the section ‘My Family.’ Appreciated this thought in ‘The Husband Manifesto - the journey from Boy to Man to Husband, takes guts, guidance, grace and good choices.’ I chuckled at ‘Heat Wave Hot Wife, Bun in Oven and ‘My Pipe- Cleaner Kingdom.’

And loved the honesty of ‘Things I Say When People Ask How It's Going With The Kids’ and sad reality of 'Beat of the Moth’ and silent appeal in 'Make Poetry History' as well as the quiet beauty of ‘I Dream of Ghandi’ and ’The Many Wings of Prayerflies.’ I could go on and on picking out lines and specific poems I liked, but this review would turn into an epic. The best thing is to get a copy and read this book yourself.

As well as the array of poems I liked the quotes from varying people like Maya Angelou, Mitch Album, Lao Tzu, Friedrich Von Schiller, Robert Frost and others that are given at the beginning of each section. I also appreciated the practical suggestions at the end of this collection for ‘how to write your own way home.’ I haven’t used any of them yet. But you can bet I will. I loved pretty much everything about this book, including the cover and the black and white photographs scattered throughout. Most of all, this collection reminded me how much I adore poetry and the power it has to make us look at things with fresh eyes and notice what is around us each day.

I liked both the playful and reflective look at life. I found section 5 ‘The Weird’ for me the least satisfactory poems of the collection but that could be just me and it might just have been my frame  of mind at that time. It certainly didn’t lessen my enthusiasm of what is a wonderful collection of poetry. I was reading this while waiting for a friend at the coffee shop recently and when she read a few poems she declared it ’simply delightful.’ I have to agree. Even those who don't normally read poetry will, I think, enjoy this book.

This book was an entry in the Caleb poetry prize.

Dale writes fiction and poetry. She has had poems published in literary magazines and newspapers as well as in several anthologies in Australia and overseas. She has a collection of poetry, Kaleidoscope which was published by Ginninderra Press. She is working towards another poetry collection as well as writing another novel.


  1. I'm not normally a poetry reader but you've got me on this one, Dale! I love imagery, so looking forward to the reading experience very much :)

  2. I'm sure you will enjoy it Andrea. It is easy to read and enjoy.

  3. Hi Dale
    This is a lovely, exuberant book. I agree with your thoughts on its freshness and inventiveness.