- Publisher: Random House (NZ)
- ISBN: 1869621190
- Published: September 8, 2006
Reviewed by Michael Harlow, Christchurch Press, 5 November 2006.
A brilliant title: in itself a kind of micro-poem of invitation. And all the more so those “moments” of brilliance at this “party of words…of new identities”. Some party, some invitation–not to be missed–because Diane Brown is able to show what happens when we’re alert to those “moments of recognition” that arrive as moments of truth to the experience of being in the world, and knowing it. And how it is and what does it mean to be so mysterious to ourselves and others? That archetypal question that is at the heart of what we used to call Literature–especially when it arrives so thoughtfully and provocatively as in Here Comes Another Vital Moment. Some samples of which, some “vital ingredients”, and such good sentences and poetry that make this personal “story”‘ more than a report-back on an overseas journey: “Sometimes such a moment is recognised instantly…an ephipany, a shimmer of light which transforms the ordinary into the radiant…a door to a private room inside your body…A place where you know they will always let you in…A small girl plucked out of a box…A river of light to open up the sky…This deep rhythm of laughing…A poem to knock ten years off your sentence…”
If travel is one way of returning you to yourself, and memoir a looking backwards to meet yourself coming the other way, and the song of poetry a way of making the invisible, visible then: Here Comes Another Vital Moment is not only a triumph of intention, but a good example of a writer working at the fine edges of the imagination, at the same time able to artfully exploit the inherent fascinations of the ordinary. Brown is very good at adding-in the “extra” that the ordinary keeps looking for; a way of animating or breathing life into the “facts-of-the-matter” that any personal history, or in this case, any relationship desires in order to survive. There are some quite splendid touches of the surreal here that can and do lift into humour and wit and quiet laughter–usually the kind that wants to “turn-the-tables”, play devil’s advocate to the storyteller herself. It is always a reading pleasure to be in the literary company of a subversive.
One of the things that distinguishes Brown as a poet and prose writer, and that makes Here Comes Another Vital Moment more than just a “good read” (although that’s always recommendation in itself) is the fact that she is willing and bold enough to write against prediction and the boundaries of the neat-and-tidy, the postures of easy charm, and the comfortable scruple of discretion. As a writer who is “a toucher, a feeler, a stroker”, she knows the mirror-value of indiscretion; she knows how to be “indiscreet” in the service of deflating and unmasking the pretensions of the narrative voice. In what amounts to a signature of style, the particular idiosyncratic shape of a writerly imagination, Brown is quite masterful at questioning and thinking out loud: What is it then about the inevitable waywardness of our own words that can tell us so much about who we imagine ourselves to be, or have failed to become?
There is much in Here Comes Another Vital Moment that explores such important matters; and with a good deal of a “lightness of touch” that reads well and carries the pleasures of the “story”–so aptly and deftly expressed in this poem: Perhaps this is why we travel, to discover we are someone else entirely. See over there a woman of mystery pulling behind her a suitcase stuffed full of multiple storylines.