perhaps somewhere in India
when news of the sighting breaks
- the quick photo
of the blurrimedage
Shadowlights (or Schattenlichter) is a handsome 128-page hardback and I found that the poems are conveniently set out for the bilingual reader like myself, with the original English versions on the left-hand pages and the translated-German versions on the right hand page. The poet under the glare of the ceiling spotlights read a small selection of her poems first in English and then in German.
Evelyn Holloway's work is influenced by a close encounter of the poetic kind with the playwright Samuel Beckett in Oxford in 1973. In a 3-page poem titled Meeting (Begegnung) she tells of this meeting and how the words of Beckett affected her future development as a writer.
And so he buys a dress for me,
green with splinters of glass stitched to the front.
It is a candid account of a young student meeting her literary hero. And that is Evelyn Holloway's way. In fact she is at times much more than candid. She is an honest and fearless writer. She is not afraid to meet her ghosts as in her poem Letter to the Past (Brief an die Vergangenheit). In another poem she writes of Virginia Woolf:
Beauty does not come from the surface.
It is loving each tree, each seagull,
loving the silence and the screaming winds.
. . .
Where is she?
Frozen by fear in bed last night
Obscene murmuring of an old man
A poem Figure in Landscape (Figur in Landschaft) was read by the author. It brought a Barbara Hepworth sculpture to life.
For me, Evelyn Holloway writes the most illuminating and revealing poetry to come from a female poet in Austria since the era of Christine Busta.
Probably as a result of her lengthy sojourns in Oxford and Cornwall she finds herself in the dualistic role of an insider and outsider looking in and out at the same time. From this unique vantage point she is now able to produce important work.
Shadowlights (Schattenlichter) may turn out to be one of the best debut collections of 2010 .
ISBN 978-3-85129-887-1 - Wieser Verlag, A-9020, Klagenfurt, Austria