Nov 30, 2015

Book Review–The Taste of River Water by Cate Kennedy


If you are a fan of Kennedy’s short fiction then I suspect that you will enjoy her poetry in The Taste of River Water

The collection presents poetry with a strong narrative structure and focus i.e. these poems tell stories, the diction and register is fairly plain/natural in its delivery.


I must plant the tree seedling
a friend left here on the step
find a place for the cards.
It seems important somehow
a matter of fumbling pride
to fold all this paper square for recycling
the florist wrap from such extravagant, unwanted flowers
the envelopes
I’m saving the envelopes
I forget why for the minute.

Kennedy has been criticised for this facet of her poetry and I certainly felt that some of the poems could easily have been flash fiction if not formatted into lines. 

Still there’s something to be said for poetry that entertains, that doesn’t require copious rereading for understanding, that gives you story and emotion.

This collection is fairly accessible to the inexperienced reader and I found it a  fluid and enjoyable read for me, combining an ease of understanding and artful narrative construction.  In terms of content it also ticked my boxes for nostalgia, history and emotional engagement.

Cate is a good storyteller and that shows in her fiction as well as her poetry.  There’s a solid sense of completeness in her poems, that she’s stopped at just the right point. 

That’s probably the biggest takeaway for me as a poet, her skill at crafting story through poetry. 

Are they memorable poems? I suppose time will tell.  They were all, however, enjoyable.

Not a wasted cent here.


This review is part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2015.  Please check out this page for more great writing from Australian women.



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