How does 'music hold us up'? In The Blind Singer, Wellington writer Chris Price 'cultivates the art / of listening' to explore this question. She has a clear and precise ear and the poems dance and shimmer around a??the heart of our hearing'. And she draws on wider material: Music and Science meet, shake hands, are introduced to History. Scepticism contends with superstition, and blindness and sight interrogate each other, eventually agreeing that 'Sometimes/ you have to turn away so you can see'. Price knits the curious and the arcane into her lines in poems variously elegiac, melodic, fiery, charming, observant and dramatic. The Blind Singer ends strongly with Price's long sequence 'The Angel Question', originally written for the science-literature project Are Angels OK? (2006). Here Price considers - by way of Einstein, Rilke and Picasso - how 'each bright / idea has its history': looking for traces of angels; walking the bright line between poetry and physics; and concluding that 'maybe a life can hang / from a thread of song'. Bursting with musical elements from bells, nursery rhymes and traditional ballads to Chaplin and Einstein playing string quartets and the Tubists' Universal Brotherhood Association, The Blind Singer is a luminous performance that continues to reverberate in the head long after the reading is over.
Multi-talented Chris Price is based in Wellington, where she teaches the poetry workshop at the International Institute of Modern Letters (VUW), home of Bill Manhire's highly regarded creative writing programmes. Her first collection of poems Husk (AUP) won the NZSA Jessie Mackay Award for Best First Book of Poetry and made the NZ Top 10 bestseller list. Her next book, the genre busting Brief Lives (AUP), won a Spectrum Print Design Award. From 1992 to 2004, she co-ordinated our major international literary event, NZ Post Writers and Readers Week and she edited New Zealand's longest-running literary magazine, Landfall, from 1993 to 2000. She was the 2008 CNZ/Auckland University Writer in residence at the Michael King Writers Centre.