This intense collection sends the reader skidding about in all directions--geographically, philosophically and emotionally. Reading the poems slowly to acclimatize and readjust along the way, I wondered for a while whether they might work better grouped together by theme or setting, to avoid making the reader dizzy. However, by the time I finished reading this slim volume, I decided that the “box of chocolates” approach, where you never quite know what’s coming next, intensified the impact of each poem.
So, where exactly do they take you? First, in terms of geography, the poems skip about the world, with the poet pitching up across Europe and Asia, and at one point travelling up to the moon and back.
Whether encountering concrete cityscapes or basking in rural idylls, Moitzi is consistently on a quest for love and peace; often encounters disappointment, loss and frustration; but in brief moments shares utter bliss.
He also canters through all the seasons. I especially liked his analogy of the process of falling in and out of love with the cycle of a full year, in “Your Love”, ending with a retreat into “my lonesome hibernation”.
There’s a playfulness about his embrace of both ancient and modern. He cites scenes as far apart in history as Greek myth (“Antigone”, “Muses, Amused”) and 21st century society (open heart surgery in “Essential Surgery”, smartphones in “iPhone in the Metro”).
I loved Moitzi’s inventiveness in interspersing advertising straplines with his thoughts as he engages with his computer in “Digital Love”, ultimately a worthless love because “When I disconnect, I erase you, I empty you away, I forget you” and “...you don’t remember me, you never know who I am”. The final line is ironic but poignant: the well-known advertising slogan “Because You’re Worth It”.
There’s also some endearing humour with regard to the relentless advance of progress in “Example”, a comic poem about an old lady’s objection to modern art. But any humour is quickly juxtaposed by agitation, anxiety and desolation within poems about drug addiction, physical abuse and death.
So, where does he find the utter bliss I mentioned earlier? Moitzi seems most settled and contented in Romantic idylls communing with the natural world. In “Nightswimming”, he skilfully builds up anticipation and fulfilment of the simple act of swimming outdoors in the dark. “Alpine Symphony”, an enthusiastic account of a mountaineering expedition, by far the longest poem in the collection, reminded me of Wordworth’s “Tintern Abbey” in the way the experience instils in him lasting strength that will fortify him after he’s left that place. At the end of this poem, he says simply: “We’ve gained a basic thing, today. It’s peace.”
Throughout, Moitzi’s use of language is vivid, multi-sensory, and often painterly but in a very direct way, for example using a palette of stark, intense colours (red, grey, black, blue) rather than more artistically nuanced shades (though I noticed two or three ochres along the way). Sometimes arrestingly original lines leap off the page, such as in “Solitude and Renewal”, where he observes that in the sky “Bulging clouds are grazing as if cattle made of cotton” – an image so clear and precise that it made me wonder why I’d never thought of viewing clouds in that way before. It’s a simile that will certainly spring to mind next time I’m cloud-gazing. I also liked the direct simplicity of “Friday in June” in which he excitedly anticipates the summer ahead: “It’sFriday, it’s June, with a perfume of holidays”.
In summary, this is a kaleidoscope of a collection that is just the thing to while away an evening by the fire this autumn, and to leave you pondering long after you read the final poem.