‘Upturned’ meets Clutha, at Beaumont

Upturned, by Kay McKenzie Cooke

‘Upturned’ is the fourth book of poems by Kay McKenzie Cooke and before buying it I was already familiar with Kay’s writing as I’d borrowed several of her previous books from public libraries and enjoyed the poems. Many poems refer to places in the south of New Zealand that I’m familiar with and it’s refreshing to enjoy the local connections and Kay’s deep attachment to the places, people and lifestyle in Southland/Otago. Her descriptions often catch me by surprise in the most wonderful way. Consider these three lines taken from Turn of events:

We’ve passed so many frightened trees today providing shelter
for woodpiles, standing in shock, up to their knees
in chopped blocks of wood. Is that lest trees forget their eventual fate?

If locations like Tuturau, Gore, Monkey Island, Clutha, Central Otago and Dunedin mean anything to you, it’s a joy to re-experience them again through Kay’s eyes. She was “born and bred” in Southland and has an acute appreciation for the region’s special character, sharing memories of interesting experiences from childhood till now even reaching back to various grandparents including a great-great-grandmother!

Beaumont’s not far from where we live and mentioned in the poem Lugging mountains. This afternoon we drove there, I wanted to see the old bridge and the Clutha River.

Later, crossing over the grumbling planks
of the Beaumont Bridge, again, the river, te awa
Mata-au, Clutha, re-appears just before it leaves
again to power on around the rocks
without a backward glance. A river
charging through, taking on boulders the size of tanks,
lugging mountains,
racking up a thousand streams.

We’re offered a complete change of scenery in the section ‘Next stop ours’ where we find Kay visiting her son’s family in Berlin and experiencing life in a completely different environment and culture.

This is a great collection with plenty of variety in the content, neatly arranged into sections of related poems. The book is beautifully illustrated by Kay’s son Mike and I absolutely LOVE the bright cover, which means that even when I’m not reading the book I gain enjoyment simply from seeing it on my shelf!

Liz rating for ‘Upturned’ : First Class / Five Star
— no hesitation in very highly recommending this book to you all  


‘Upturned’ was released back in June this year, available through publishers The Cuba Press where you can find more information and purchase online.

Kay McKenzie Cooke has a great
website/blog at Line By Line

Also..  this profile page appeared online fairly recently.

Reviewed by Liz, review photos by Liz / all taken today; Exploring Colour (2020)

Portrait photo by Kate Cooke

9 thoughts on “‘Upturned’ meets Clutha, at Beaumont

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  1. Kay has a wonderfully expressive way of writing – love the observation of the ‘frightened trees’ – I will never view felled trees and piles of cut down wood in quite the same way again… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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