This debut collection of poetry is based around the emblem of gorse – that barbed colonial invader that was first introduced to windbreak off native land into farmland, for the use of settlers. This touches on many of the main themes in the book: historical land grievances, ecological disaster, and worker exploitation.
Gorse Poems has a social conscience at its heart, that is battered against the inequalities and injustices of contemporary New Zealand. But it also has a lyrical and postmodern persuasion, that is interested in what language can do – how the rhythms can be regulated, how words stacked in long DNA chains can spiral down the page building to a volume that threatens to overrun the reader. Throw into the mix an unusual obsession with the high modernism of the American poet Hart Crane, and we have a book of New Zealand poetry that is deeply refreshing.