Stephen Oliver. Deadly Pollen. Middletown, NJ: Word Riot Press, 2003. [Book review]
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The movement which takes an historical event – the bombing of the Sari Nightclub in Bali on October 12, 2002 – into the “slipstream above the stratosphere” is also the movement of transtasman poet Stephen Oliver’s admirable 2003 chapbook: Deadly Pollen. To be more precise, two movements dominate here. The first sends history into the stratosphere: “Time passes – that pressure in space again” (Poem 7). According to the second movement, the laws of Newtonian physics reassert themselves and there are so many particular things that fall: sand, dust, snow, “star flecks, nova spittle” (Poem 26). Earthly bombing becomes nova explosion. The poem’s perspective expands until it collapses under its own metaphysical weight into an even smaller, even more constricted topos: “in an emptied / space within a space caved under” (Poem 2). This is the cosmic claustrophobia characterising the sequence of thirty-one granular poems making up the (w)hole of “Deadly Pollen”.