The Duties of a Cat

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duties of a cat

BLACKFORD, Jenny (text) Michael Robson (illus.) The Duties of a Cat Pitt Street Poetry, 2013 23pp $12.00 pbk+e ISBN 9781922080240

This is a small but utterly charming publication of beautifully crafted poems about cats.  It has a crisp card cover, measures 16x11cm, and is printed on cream paper.  Poem titles and fine borders around the illustrations appear in elegant burnt orange to contrast with the black text in the body of each poem.  The line and wash sketches of the cats capture the creatures to perfection.

The poems indicate that the author can rely on an extensive appreciative observation of cats.  It could be shared by readers of all ages.  However, in parts of this collection, the expression seems pitched at an older group of readers with literary knowledge.  Compounded words and use of poetic devices like assonance and alliteration convey a glimpse of the techniques in the work of nineteenth century poet Gerard Manly Hopkins. Nevertheless, the meaning is easily accessible in other poems like the final one, Soft silk sack, with Jenny Blackford’s wonderful use of metaphor and observation.  This pocket-sized publication is a treasure.

reviewed by Elspeth Cameron

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