Introduction to D. S. Maolalai’s “Sad Havoc Among the Birds” : Launch Speech by Ross Hattaway

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I am delighted to be able, on behalf of DS Maolalai and Turas Press, to play the smallest of parts in delivering this book into the world. And what a gorgeous book it is.

Sad Havoc Among the Birds is Diarmuid’s second book, following Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden, from the North American publisher, Encircle. That book has been described as a travelogue through youth and love. It is fitting then, that Sad Havoc seems more like an arrival and a taking of stock, a reflection on what has already been.

It seems to me that, more than anything, these poems are about memory, memory and perception and things recalled sharply in a blurred canvas. They swim around the remembered, surfacing as memory does, personal, reliable and unreliable, in pieces, in fragments, in whole stories. As the narrator would like to remember them or himself.  As he may not.

And it is written with a brio that stops short of bravado, that unearned swagger lurking in the male imagination, perhaps because the liveliness is tempered by curiosity, by a willingness to look back and look hard. This allows sadness to stand up, the influences to stay strong but not to strangle the poetry.

Above all, this is a very direct and personal testament. We can forget, in the forges of writing courses and degrees, where we learn not to make mistakes or take risks, that books are written by people, for people. There is no mistaking that here.

I’ll leave you with the shortest poem in the book, still looking, seeking to escape through language.

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