My review of Tullawalla by Ivor Steven

I recently had the privilege and pleasure of reading Ivor’s manuscript for his forthcoming poetry collection, Tullawalla. The book is released on 30.03.21 and is available for pre-order from Barnes and Noble. I am very excited to have been involved in this project and wish Ivor every success with his book launch! You can read my review below.

Review of Tullawalla

I have just finished reading Ivor Steven’s enchanting poetry collection, Tullawalla. The collection is subtitled ‘A Meeting Place/Where My Empty Hands Are Full Of Memories And Rhymes.’ Just how appropriate the title and subtitle are will become apparent to anyone reading this collection soon after they begin.

Divided into chapters, this poetry book reads like a story, with each chapter delightfully different from the last but fitting within the overarching poetic spectrum of the collection.

Ivor’s subjects range from nature through love and loss to the realm of fantasy and beyond. What comes through most strongly in the work is the poet’s undying love for his deceased wife, whose presence is felt on every page, even where she is not the direct subject of a particular poem. He deals directly with his loss in the chapter ‘My Empty Hands Are Full Of Memories and Dreams.’ The poem ‘Everlasting smile’ brought tears to my eyes. It begins with the lines:

“My eyes, narrowly cracked
My cheeks, slightly etched
I rest here, retracing every mile
Remembering, your everlasting smile

The acid test for poetry as far as I’m concerned is ‘does it touch the heart?’ and Ivor’s book does more than this: it breaks the heart then puts it back together again, then lifts it up above the clouds into a landscape of rainbows and dreams:

‘I then saw in our narrowing crevasse
the universe, in a blade of grass

The above poetic nod to Whitman is found in the poem ‘My Neighbour Wasn’t Mowing His Lawn.’

There are so many warm moments in this book, from a simple delight in nature (e.g. ‘Grasshopper’s Hallelujah’) to a childhood memory of a bushfire (‘In The Light Of Night’), that it’s impossible to feel sad after reading it, though some of the subject matter is indeed harrowing.

I am also impressed by Ivor’s range of poetic subjects: from a trilogy of poems about his own personal dragon to his experience of sleeping ‘like a white chocolate Jesus’ during quarantine; there is literally never a dull moment in this collection.

My verdict? I cannot recommend this title highly enough. Ivor’s distinctive poetic voice and narrative skill combine to transport the reader to a better place beyond the spectrum of our everyday worries, doubts and fears.

19 thoughts on “My review of Tullawalla by Ivor Steven

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  1. I’m am absolutely thrilled Ingrid, and graciously humbled by your wonderful supported of my book…
    I am not sure how to express my gratitude, so when I am lost for words, I always turn to Leonard Cohen, my mentor throughout my life, and I’ll send you one of my favourite songs of his. .this has really nothing do with what I am trying to say,.. but I love the poetic lyrics…
    https://youtu.be/ArLYu_ssUUg

  2. A beautiful book houses beautiful words! I loved reading your thoughts on this mind-rendering poetry, as proved by the teasing and haunting lines from Tullawalla you share. 🙂

  3. Ingrid, your “acid test” for poetry is why, I believe, it is hard to teach the writing of poetry. It sounds like Ivor’s collection passes this test. Based on your thoughtful and detailed review, it sounds like a delightful read.

  4. wow Ingrid you said it so well … his book reads/feels like the man himself! Poetic wonder following the rollercoaster of his life, his big heart and his true love 🙂

      1. That’s why I can’t commit to many book reviews but I had a little time in which to do it and I’m pleased I did!

  5. What a beautiful write up on Ivor’s book Ingrid and congratulations Ivor.
    It sounds so beautiful and heartfelt and the poem you shared is so touching. I Love when you said
    ” it breaks the heart then puts it back together again, then lifts it up above the clouds into a landscape of rainbows and dreams”:
    Wonderful memories and stories of the heart. ❤️

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