Lynn Davidson

Common Land


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The children remember playing on common land
with other children
inside great big days.
Thinking up the world.

A poem is a piece of common land. You go to it to be alone, to be with other people, to be out at night, to graze cattle, to light up. This book of poems and essays includes player pianos, waltzes, green glass trees and a person sitting on their coat. I didn’t set out to tell such big stories. I was going to graze cattle, but I stopped to light up.  

'Common Land is possibly the most successful mix of poetry and prose I have read. Nothing is simply occasional, and everything fits together. The essayist tells of the death of her first partner, father of her grown-up son, and the poet remembers a wintertime trip to the isle of Islay with man and child; the essayist reflects upon her musical family and playing the piano accordion, and the poet talks tenderly about her aging father and her mother’s last illness. A day is spent in the Family Court, a daughter leaves home – the essays and poems circle, and shine lights on one another. Lynn Davidson has produced a deeply feeling and deeply rational book, a thoughtful book, where things are unusual and surprising, and yet necessary and true.' ——Elizabeth Knox

'Common Land slinks into the room with  poems that sound true. The short essays  capture the intensity of feeling that owe a debt to her past. This book hangs together naturally leaving the reader free to enjoy the view as the ride  progresses. This is another book full of energy and imagination.' —Hamesh Wyatt, Otago Daily Times

'Intriguing, mysterious, yet also bitingly real' —Emma Neale, NZ Listener

'Deft poetry with careful, elegant, wistful, understated essays. Beautiful stuff.' —Caren Wilton

'I'd not read heaps from Lynn Davidson before this book and this one just came out and knocked me upside the head in a good way. The essays, the repetition, the stories. Loved it.' —Emma Barnes

Poet, essayist and fiction writer Lynn Davidson is the author of Do You Still Have Time for Chaos? (2024), four collections of poetry, most recently Islander (Te Herenga Waka University Press and Shearsman), a novel, essays and short stories. Lynn had a Hawthornden Fellowship in 2013 and a Bothy Project Residency in the Cairngorms in 2016. She won the 2020 Poetry New Zealand Poetry Award and was 2021 Creative New Zealand Randell Cottage Writer in Residence. In 2023 she was Mike Riddell Writer in Residence in Ōtūrēhua, Central Otago. Lynn calls Aotearoa New Zealand and Scotland home.

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