A review of The Man, the Boy and the Tamarisk Tree by Tess Driver

Reviewed by Beatriz Copello

The Man, the Boy and the Tamarisk Tree
by Tess Driver
Ginninderra Press
ISBN-13: 9781761095498, May 2023, Paperback, 64 pages

Tess Driver is a cosmopolitan woman who has lived in England, America and Asia. She has won various poetry prizes, taught Creative Writing at Adelaide University and has been widely published in national and international anthologies. Besides The Man, the Boy and the Tamarisk Tree Driver has published two other poetry books Women Behind Glass and Kite Lady.

The title of the book led me to expect poems about a man, a boy and a tamarisk tree or some kind of able. While this collection does contain one or two poems about a man, a boy and a tamarisk tree the subject and themes of these poems are numerous and interesting. Some of the poems are about travel, others are about animals, plants, and human experiences. These are seen through a lens of mythology, foreign traditions, legends and rituals:

Fruits of the Queen of the Dead
pomegranates – lustrous, rich,
mystical as the apple
that haunted Paradise.

The poet observes the world around her, creating poems from ‘moments in time’. She could be in Bali, the Serengeti or Argentina.  With vivid descriptions she tells sad stories like the one about a bear in the Albanian border who was abused and starved or the elephants who will die for the ivory in their tasks. Obviously, the poet is an animal lover.

Some readers may identify with the experience of laying in bed unable to fall sleep. In the following poem, “The Black Hole of Three A.M”, there is no sheep counting, but rather memories:

The night is dark and still,
my body, a heavy dough of sleeplessness.
Thoughts thrash like moments
caught on barbed wire: itching eyes,
blind to half-wake possibilities.

Like Scheherazade, Driver recounts events of things and people she has encountered. Some of her poems are profound and others philosophical. Her words shine with vivid imagery, clever similes,  sounds and sights. Many poems mention overseas places but many of her other poems have an Australian feeling because of the rich display of local birds, flowers and animals. There are also mentions of Australian icons like Dame Nellie Melba. There is even a love story, coloured by the juice and flesh of blackberries. The Man, the Boy and the Tamarisk Tree is a book for the housewife, the traveller, the mother, the nature lover, the insomniac, the solitary man, and the gardener, 

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 Azul and 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.