A collection that takes flight in many directions but remains grounded by the keen intent and ability of this award-winning poet. Halcyon Ghosts presents thirteen poems, thirteen shapes of knowing – from the cinematic reel ‘The Kid’, splicing stills of the poet’s grandmother and Charlie Chaplin, to the re-verse soundings of ‘Six Reels of Joy’, celebrating the birth of the poet’s daughter. The title poem displays a ghostly counterpoint of birds and words in flight; strikethrough poems are threaded through with runes of fact and fiction. Language, Sampson demonstrates, is as particular and transitory as the patterning of the natural world. Poems layer, link and break apart, sampling and echoing other texts – whether the everlasting cataracts of Keats and Dylan Thomas or reportage gleaned from territorial newspapers of the Old West. Halcyon Ghosts is a profoundly philosophical and personal collection, an assemblage of unearthed vestiges, a quintessence – where names displaced by light, are dark but not lost . . . . Ever-changing, language spills its story.
Sam Sampson was born in Auckland, New Zealand, and grew up in Titirangi. He has an MA in Philosophy from the University of Auckland and has taught in the University’s ethnomusicology programme. Sampson’s poetry has been widely published in journals and chapbooks and his first collection with Auckland University Press, Everything Talks, won the NZSA Jessie Mackay Best First Book Award for Poetry at the 2009 book awards