Reviewed by Beatriz Copello
by Andrew Geoffrey Kwabena Moss
ISBN: 9780645432633, Paperback, Feb 2023, $19.95
Dispersion, dissemination, migration, displacement and much more are the topics in Andrew Geoffrey Kwabena Moss’s poetry book Diaspora 3. The poet explores in a unique style the complex subject of identity, race and place. He does not only explore, he questions, challenges and raise issues that emerge when people from different race, identity and social class merge and relate.
This fascinating book of poetry is divided in three sections. Part One contains “A Global History”, “A Personal History” and “Then on Arrival”. Moss uses language to travel to the past, bringing history to the page from a perspective different to the traditional. We read about John Randall and William Cuffay, two black men who came to Australia on the first fleet, as well as many other people. Moss’ descriptions are vivid with nuances, subtly exploring the impact of discrimination. Sarcasm and irony are umbrellas of Moss’ poetry, as in the following poem titled “The Australian Nightmare”, which takes a swipe at Australian ‘culture’:
The Australian Dream only got as far
As the manicured lawns that dose Caringbah
En route we raced and rioted past Cronulla’s distressed
Surf and turfed out of the RSL back bar
In God’s Own Shire
You hear a muffled exhaust and an immigrant’s sigh
Wog Boy numberplates
announce themselves in irony at the traffic lights
Moss’ words are eloquent and have a deep ring of truth. I love how he utilises sophisticated words mixed with slang. Several of the poems engage with the suffering of First Nations people including the welfare abuse of children who were taken away from their families. Moss pulls no punches, and his words are hard-hitting and powerful.
Amidst the political and challenging poems are a series of poems about birds typical of Australia and other wildlife. Mythology is also woven throughout the book. One poem that particularly impressed me, not because of the mention of an Egyptian god Djehuty -Thoth, but because of the clever way in which Moss links the personal with the mythological.
Amidst all the poems which raise complex social and political issues there are intricate narrative poems which require more than one reading, as in “Rocky Hill Webs”, so cleverly constructed, with a lovely soundscape full of alliteration. This, as with many of the pieces in the book, are designed to be read aloud:
Betwixt the twig’s forefinger and index
in its slender tentacles the spider’s grip
with tibia and metatarsus lifts
a diamond white encrusted silhouette
Behind Anansi looms suddenly shapes shift
enshrouded in colloidal silvery mist
Memorial swings sceptre spectre, a stone cold
fingertip vacillates time signatures the metronome
Ephemeral cerement embalms the fluid needle
above, across corroboree tablelands
genetic memories inject the womb
Diaspora 3 is a terrific book, with a strong rhyme scheme, and a rich tapestry that encompasses time travel, engagement with Australian places, cultural behaviours and political issues and lies. This is a book to read slowly, savour and reflect.
About the reviewer: Dr Beatriz Copello is an award-winning poet, she writes poetry, fiction, poetry reviews and plays. The author’s books are: Women Souls and Shadows, Meditations At the Edge of a Dream, Under the Gums Long Shade, Forbidden Steps Under the Wisteria, A Call to the Stars translated and published in China and Taiwan, Witches Women and Words, No Salami Fairy Bread, Renacer en Azuland Lo Irrevocable del Halcon (In Spanish). Copello’s poetry has been published in literary journals such as Southerly and Australian Women’s Book Review and in many feminist publications. The author has participated in international conferences, has taught Creative Writing at W.S.U. and other scholarly institutions, she has read her poetry at Writers Festivals and other poetry events in Australia and overseas.