Poetry Review: Tung 

By Robyn Maree Pickens (Otago University Press, 2023)

The immediacy of the body in nature is the root system from which Robyn Maree Pickens’ debut collection of poetry, Tung, springs. The book’s first acknowledgment goes to a tiny cottage and surrounding nature in Ōtepoti’s greenbelt, where Pickens lived while writing this excellent and engaging collection.

Although this book is firmly rooted in place, it is not bound by its origins, skipping over the planet both in location and languages, a salient reminder of the wholeness of the global ecosystem. The effects of climate change and the rippling nature of human action are an inviolable centre to the work. “Icebergs shear off Antarctic glaciers” (‘Praise the warming world (Try to)’) and float past the coasts of distant cities as “all the centuries are pressed together” (‘What to wear in the third millennium?’).

Robyn knows and invites us to remember the pulsing connection of life that we are all irrevocably a part of, no matter how much capitalism and colonisation would like us to forget.

Eliana Gray