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The Tenderness of Light

Tenderness of Light by Mary McCallumI have just acquired a copy of Mary McCallum’s elegant new book of poems The Tenderness of Light, launched at the “Translucent Landscapes” exhibition in Wellington (sadly,just finished today). The ‘translucence’ is reflected in photographs, prints, paintings and video installations centred round the theme of light. The exhibition space was a marvellous light statement in itself, formerly the rooms of an optician, designed to reveal cityscapes and reflections.

Mary’s book is a signed limited edition of 100 books, printed on linen paper and hand sewn, published by Makaro Press. It contains six strong yet deeply tender poems, written at and about the Wairarapa, where Mary and her family have an olive grove and summer home. Go to Mary’s o audacious book blog for details on how to buy one of these books before they have all disappeared. I love especially ‘After Reading Auden’, a poem that won the Caselberg Trust International Poetry Prize.

I had a late morning coffee at Mary’s other home in Eastbourne a few weeks ago. (I guess she would call it her full-time house). She has as unerring a sensibility for good food as she does for a poem. On the morning I was there she had made Apricot Cakes from a recipe from Lois Daish’s gone but never forgotten Listener column, only she used freshly picked plums. These delicious morsels were cooked with a whole plum inside them, and served with yoghurt. Beside her kitchen door stood a half-barrel of the fruit, freshly picked and ripe from the sun. Another friend and I left laden spare cakes, and our own big bag of plums. (See the Food column for the recipe.)