A Man Runs into a Woman
Finalist for Best Poetry Book
by Sarah Jane Barnett
2013 New Zealand Post Book Awards
Published 10 August 2012
72pp, Paperback, 144mm x 215mm
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In A Man Runs into a Woman, Barnett looks at the different ways to tell a person's story: two middle-aged men strike up an unlikely friendship, one couple reconnects after the war, while another couple leave the worst unsaid, and a cross-dressing man talks with his daughter. A series of nine distinctive poems explore the gap between the heartfelt last words of Texas death row inmates, and the grim police reports of their crimes.
Barnett said she was interested in looking at the way conflicting stories could exist in the same world: 'I wanted my poems to think about the way people come together and change the course of each other's lives.'
Barnett's work has appeared in a range of publications, including Landfall, Sport, NZ Listener, and Southerly (Australia). Two of her poems were also selected for Best New Zealand Poems in 2007 and 2010. She is currently completing a creative PhD in ecopoetics at Massey University.
Responses to the book
'Vivid and real and so brave.'
- John Campbell, Chief Judge of New Zealand Post Book Awards 2013
'Barnett deliberately treads an uneasy line between voyeurism and empathy in these remarkable poems.'
- The Landfall Review
'Barnett's debut collection is well worth heralding ... the poet has adeptly made this material her own and inhabits the specifics in order to invoke our deeper consternation and bewilderment about the sources of human cruelty.'
'This is an honest, zealous and dark little book. Barnett looks closely at people in a series of poetic vignettes ... A Man Runs Into A Woman is stunning, stormy, snappy and accessible without hiding anything from the imagination. If you like your poetry full of shock, drama and statements, rather than soft whispery bits, this is the one for you.'
- Otago Daily Times
'As a cartographer of human experience, Sarah Jane Barnett steps boldly into the shoes and lives of others: a cable television engineer, a geographer, a pipeline worker. Her alert mind and canny eye for detail translate and transform what we may have missed in the world into poetic vignettes that are both light-footed and fresh.'
- Paula Green
'The book is a beautiful thing ... it is also an honest and clear-sighted collection. Barnett's writing is measured without ever seeming overworked ... Particularly powerful are the nine poems of the middle section, based around the last words of Texas death row inmates ... This collection will reward the careful reader.'
- FishHead Magazine
'Barnett is a daring poet - her poetry takes exciting formal risks, but it can kick you in the guts, as well.'
- Lawrence Patchett
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