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Tymon Smith on Megan Hall

Fourth ChildFourth Child Launch Snaps “Poetry,” writes Tymon Smith in his inimitable Book Case style, “always seems to be hidden away in unpleasant corners of bookshops and people often cringe at the very mention of the word – remembering their own tepid highschool attempts …”

But there’s nothing tepid about Megan Hall or the panel of judges who just awarded her first collection, Fourth Child (Modjaji Books) the prestigious Ingrid Jonker Prize.

Another innovative collection getting a special mention from the panel was Haidee Kruger’s lush. Maybe the hot stuff from the “poetry princesses” (Smith’s coinage!) will render those unpleasant corners a little less chilly? Dare we hope that our favourite book shop chain might actually stretch to a dedicated display?

The official press release from the adjudicators committee, which consisted of poets Gabeba Baderoon, Kobus Moolman and Ingrid de Kok – commended the attentively crafted verse and the powerful emotional effect of Hall’s work. The verse, mostly centering around grief and loss, is written with discretion and restraint, steering away from self-pity. “Images are sharp and unforgettable”, says Baderoon in her report. Moolman refers to Hall’s “accomplished and precise writing”. He mentions that although she does not display so much formal inventiveness – so that her poems may appear rather conservative and traditional – the sophistication of her imagery and the construction of her lines more than compensate for this.

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