NZ Listener Best Books of 2023
Grounded in the urgency of the moment – motherhood, housing precarity, politics – Past Lives also surges along on the nervous and joyful electricity of Leah Dodd’s voice, taking us from buses to poetry readings, rental bathrooms to Runescape, sometimes through the power of astral projection. These poems encounter domestic and feral creatures, mermaids, and men with terrible mullets. In form these poems are restless and spacious, constantly locating themselves, as the author herself does in her new life with a young child who shapeshifts daily. Most of all, these poems are about becoming – how, as we move toward the future, we turn our thoughts backwards towards the lives we have come from.
'Leah's poetry makes me vomit with joy. Everyone should read this fucking book.' —Jordan Hamel
‘Past Lives is filled with a deadpan and undercutting comedic voice. Sharp and impressive, it’s wonderful, and often made me laugh out loud.’ —Louise Wallace
'Another great debut. ... She looks back wryly at her adolescence and when she takes to social satire, she is often uproariously funny.' —NZ Listener
‘Leah’s poems pursue a romance with art as escape route from real life, while lovingly recording the dirt and disarray of the real. The narrators often seem to feel as if they are in the gutter but looking at the stars.’ —Chris Price
Leah Dodd lives in Pōneke. Her poetry has appeared in Starling, Stasis, Mayhem, Sweet Mammalian and The Spinoff. In 2021 she won the Biggs Family Poetry Prize from the International Institute of Modern Letters at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington.
Cover: Charles Edward Perugini, The Goldfish Bowl, oil on canvas, c. 1870