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Memory Gene Pool
Softcover chapbook 28pp
Michael Morrissey (b. 1942) is the author of ten volumes of poetry,two short story collections, three short novels & a memoir. His first volume of poetry, Make Love in All the Rooms, was published by Caveman Press in 1978. In 1979 he was the first Writer-in-Residence at the University of Canterbury, & in 1985 the first New Zealander to take part in the University of Iowa International Writing Programme, earning an Honorary Fellowship in Writing. In 2012 he was appointed Writer-in-Residence at the University of Waikato. His anthology The New Fiction (1985) was the first anthology of New Zealand postmodern fiction. His more than 80 published short stories range from neo-social realism to the surreal and postmodern. A film by Costa Botes of a Morrissey story, “Stalin’s Sickle”, won the Grand Jury Prize at the Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival in France in 1988. A feature-length documentary by Botes,Daytime Tiger (2011), deals with Morrissey’s experience of manic depression (aka bipolar disorder), also the subject of his 2011 memoir, Taming the Tiger.
Of this, his eleventh book of poetry, Morrissey writes:“These poems - which happily I consider to be my best yet - continue to explore my on going concerns with time, the moon, and the sea; with history and memories of my lovely parents who sadly left this world when I was still a young man. More latterly, due to the spectacular arrival of mania, and from time to time its darker cousin depression, I have written poems (as well as a memoir) about what it's like to go mad. The singular condition of mania is that it departs of its own accord leaving the host shattered but dangerously enlightened as to what the mind is capable of. Now that I given up the poetry of complaint, it has freed me up to rub up against the natural world and the world of fascinating objects and perspectives. The world and I are becoming better acquainted. And hopefully my sense of language has become sharper.”
Inappropriate Just for Once
We came into a small room
pleasantly furnished with blue air.
I planted up my past beside
a rectangle of roses. I was happy,
I suppose. It won't last. A small
Chinese mother-inhabited goddess was about
to speak with the warm authority of a prophet.
Just then my mother-in-law came down the steps
checking for the money I had left like small
flat purple mice. They say money talks
but this note spoke only of madness. As it burst
into chuckles, I shoved it back into my pocket.
© Michael Morrissey 2012