Skilful and Fluid: Cath Piltz Reviews ‘The Right Wrong Notes’ by Nathan Curnow

The Right Wrong Notes by Nathan Curnow ASM & Cerberus Press, with Flying Island Books 2015

right wrong noteThis is a collection of 59 selected poems from previous and recent publications including No Other Life But This, The Ghost Poetry Project, RADAR, with recent works appearing in The Rialto, Meanjin and Land Before Lines.

Curnow displays an interesting ensemble of moments, memories, and experiences through prose form, traditional stanza and some nice extended prose like ‘Gently Against the Grain’ (p 76). There are some very tender moments in the poems dedicated to his daughters, his wife and his father – an overarching theme as he reflects on fatherhood, or the implication of fatherhood, family and life. I particularly enjoyed the characterisation in ‘Goal Cat’ (p 32).

As a performance poet you can feel the message in a lot of Curnow’s prose. His pacing and rhythm delivers a sound punch and gentle ebb purposefully placed with such gems as ‘Broadarrow Café, Port Arthur’ (p 49), ‘The Doctor Asks the Elderly Poet to Read the Eye Chart’, and ‘Norman Lindsay upon visiting the Ballarat Art Gallery to discover that the entire family room he grew up in has now been donated and is now on permanent display’ (p 74).

Curnow’s writing is skilful and fluid, organising imagery so much without trying. His observations in Violent Light (pg 78), Slip Ice (pg 76) and I am the lion on the edge of your bed who has come to eat your heart (pg 72) delivers fascinating insights and snapshots surmounted into a short, sharp glimpse of the individual’s lives he portrays. An honest, reflective account of moments, memories, and experiences. Thoroughly enjoyable.

 – Cath Piltz


Cath Piltz grew up on the North Coast: writing, drawing and taking pictures. She is currently completing the Associate Degree in Creative Writing at Southern Cross University and has been published by Monstralian, in Byron Writer’s Festival magazine Northerly and in Southern Cross University School of Humanities and Social Sciences Anthology Coastlines 6.

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