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Monsoon Diary is an enjoyable collection of poems by Joseph Woods who is already an award-winning poet. The poems in this collection show his lyrical and very readable style. Just as the title indicates, the poems form a diary from several years of his life. They cover the period of time from his daughter’s birth until the death of his mother and are concerned with various personal milestones as well as descriptions of the many places he visited and resided in over that period.
As in any diary, several topics form threads linking the poems. They show the passing of time and the changes which occur through Woods’ life. They are also representative of life in general. Read as a narrative it sustains the reader’s interest by the use of apt vocabulary in his descriptions of settings and events.
The second part of the collection introduces us to Woods’ life in which he becomes immersed in his travels and writing. His wife and daughter are with him and help to keep the narrative moving on to show his development as a writer at the same time making us aware of advancing time, as his daughter grows and her interest develops. ‘Driving to Delvin’ particularly shows how he brings together the idea that travel although always moving forward, gives time for reflection on the past. As he drives he thinks about people and events in his past. A small reference to his daughter’s childish question at the end of ‘Eliza Island’ leads us to see that she probably indulges in this type of reflection during times of travel.
The threads which draw the collection together recur at varying intervals, just as different themes and friendships occur throughout our own lives. I found myself looking forward to references of his daughter. First mentioned in ‘Guest in Reverse’ when the house is prepared for her arrival, followed by further poems and occasional snippets in others showing her gradual growth and developing interest in the places to which the family travels.
The initial poem ‘Monsoon Diary’ begins a thread about the weather which is referred to in many of the poems and is used to close the collection with ‘Rain in Burma’. This title being supplied by his daughter. Several main threads are brought together on the death of Woods’ mother, concluding the period of time covered by the diary.
Monsoon Diary is a collection of poems in the form of a Diary. Together the poems make a simple, intimate biography of Joseph Woods’ life over a particular period. It tells of life as it is lived in recurring threads, progressing and reflecting, remembering and foretelling, with grief and humour. Each poem is a separate entity to be savoured at the reader’s leisure. A thoroughly delightful collection to delve into for individual favourites.
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