Title: When God Died

Author: Michael Hulse

In: Sport 8: Autumn 1992

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, March 1992, Wellington

Part of: Sport

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Sport 8: Autumn 1992


That fireburst 'stop comparisons hearts at nothing when you do' is characteristic of the localized bezazz Leggott often affects. It is like a freeway version of Geoffrey Hill: the implications of multivalent association which Hill likes to tuck away in etymological allusiveness are up in neon on Leggott's farçade, brash and unsubtle but—let's admit it—with the fast, contemporary attraction of a flashing sign in the night. Gregory O'Brien, Jenny Bornholdt and Anne French live in a different conceptual universe from Dinah Hawken and Michele Leggott. O'Brien, for a start, doesn't seem to have been to God's funeral. All his instincts move to a kind of cognitive celebration which is essentially deist in nature. The page 136 beautiful title poem, 'Man in a Field of Goats', 'Cosmos and Damian', and the two Visigothic hymns that close Great Lake, make no sense whatsoever if we refuse to allow a premise of possible divinity. Gregory O'Brien's commanding rhythms and tender phrasing have been widely praised, and rightly; so I shall only draw attention to that point in his work where intellectual richness and emotional maturity meet. In 'Wellington Harbour', it is not only wit that informs the wordplay on 'reflection', and it is not irreverence that adapts the words of Christ (Mark 8, 36) in the last six lines: