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By: Sally Gaunt

Blue Moon Over Moorea

Pages: 92 Ratings: 4.0
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In Blue Moon over Moorea, an anthology of poems by Australian lawyer and poet Sally Gaunt, the author mines some of her favourite themes to remarkable effect.
Water in all its forms proves a constant inspiration, from ‘Swimming with Seahorses’ to the rapt, almost hallucinatory images of the title poem. Gaunt breathes new life into verse written for the reading community and brings a sharp eye and wry humour to the perennial subjects of love, sex and death.
Many of the poems are boldly imaginative recreations of historical events, typically centred on the sea, while the cycle of feather poems that opens the book considers the concept of manhood versus mayhem in a social setting.

Sally Gaunt practised law in Perth, Australia, for many years while turning her hand to literary works in various genres. Her first book, Poems of Passion and Praise, received critical acclaim.
She is a member of the Fellowship of Australian Writers.

Customer Reviews
4 reviews
4 reviews
  • Phillip Dawe

    An anthology of the best poetry of a lover of Law, English and Australian history: focuses on sea and water. Coherent, very readable. Particularly liked the poem about Thai cave boys. Phillip Dawe University of Southern Queensland

  • Emeritus Professor Dennis Haskell The University of Western Australia

    The Author of "Blue Moon Over Moorea" is a lawyer and a poet. However, her poems display more clarity and directness of language than most legal documents. The collection's only poem about the law, ironically called "Honi Soit Qui KMal Y Horse" mocks judges or at least their appearance, as she imagines a judge in a wig turning into a "Horse man" who is "Heaven scent".
    A quiet sense of humour is apparent in other poems too: in "The Old Hat" an old fisherman so loves his battered hat that he buys it back from the Salvation Army shop where his wife dumped it: waiting in the queue for the Eiffel Tower a bus pulls up with "Twenty Japanese seniors, in various stages of decomposition". The judge's transformation into a horse is one of many poems that show Gaunt's skill with fables and nursery stories - "Thumbelina", "Rob Roy" and "Fairytale" are others. The book exhibits an interest in history, evident in poems about Francis Drake, Magellan, Da Gama and Marcus Aurelius, but even these actual figures move towards fable.
    By contrast, the book includes one poem that is almost a prayer, "The Lord is Gracious to Us", but Gaunt's Christian outlook is marked throughout by compassion. She is never judgemental - in the end, not even about the judge- but she is a keen observer with a great deal of empathy for a range of characters: the transporter James Ruse, a "Working Girl" who "Daydreams", the pioneer botanist Georgiana Molloy, the eccentric blokes who race vintage cars in Outback dust, or an old New York hippy whose tent is invaded by a brush tail turkey.
    Gaunt's unstated Christianity is also apparent in Sally Gaunt's love of landscapes, particularly of colours in the landscape. The "sunset stains scarlet gold in Northern Thailand" where cave "tunnels split like bronchi" ("Cave Boys"). The book's cover shows a spectacular Moorea, a French Polynesian atoll, rising up out of the Pacific. This enjoyment extends to birds: that brushtail turkey "has an orange warble, edged vermillon, with charcoal body"; a parrot is the colour of a "tequila sunrise"while "A prism sky splits white light"("Violet Feather").
    Imagery is Sally Gaunt's particular gift. "Swimming with Seahorses" has her watching those extraordinary creatures "curl ribbed tails about other tails/forming suspended umbrella stands". The "Cave Boys" are "in wet suits extracted like newborns". Imagery is visual, auditory and tactile as in "The Butterfly House".
    A deft handling of rhythm makes "The Working Girl Daydreams" one of the most earthy and evocative poems in the collection. Her haiku "Peace" emblematises this collection:
    "Peace in our hearts;
    like a pebble thrown into a pool
    Ripples outwards".

  • Writing WA reviewed 26th July 2022

    Sally Gaunt's second collection of poetry begins with a delicate exploration of masculinity through the symbolism of feathers. These hued feather poems paint valour and eroticism but hint at male violence through allusion to the rape of Leda and the Jim Crow laws.

    Many of the poems project a male speaker, but two contrasting female speakers - that of a sex worker who escapes male fetish to a simple life on the coast with a gentle bloke called Reg and Georgiana Molloy's colonial voice, in fear of yet in need of male protection - are further studie of a nuanced representation of men.

    The poem "Swimming with Seahorses" juxtaposes dead things washed up on the shore or held captive in an aquarium to the sexual entanglement of seahorses and the snorkeller's voyeuristic adoration of their freedom. Gaunt privileges the ocean as an alluring site of love and (re)birth and we are swept up in her rhythmic surge.

  • Peter Boyle

    Beautifully in tune with the natural world, sparse and subtle in diction, the poems in Sally Gaunt's Blue Moon over Moorea embrace life in all its richness. The surrounding sea, the living creatures of earth and air, the sorrows and joys of existence are all present in these poems in abundance. Poems like "Daughter" "The Butterfly House" and "Blue Moon over Moorea" capture life with a vivid immediacy and personal flair that are truly impressive. A delight to read.

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