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MANHIRE, BILL
Milky way bar
Manchester, victoria university Press, 1991. VG paperback. 1st ed

Manhire extends his examinations with 'Milky Way Bar', the poem which gives this book of poem collection its title. The subject of the poem is populism. Through a series of statements made in a flat tone and with an irregular rhythm, the poem offers the kind of monologue one could well expect to hear in a public bar. Its speaker might easily be James Joyce's boozy citizen from the Cyclops chapter of Ulysses. In keeping with its subject matter, the poem proceeds by means of references lifted from popular culture: the Milky Way chocolate bar; the videogame 'Space Invaders' (mostly available at the time of the poem's publication in games arcades); and creatures from Mars. In depicting populism, 'Milky Way Bar' is marked by complacency and xenophobia: not at all Manhire's own mindset. It seems unfortunate, then, and perhaps even revealing, that the opening lines of the poem--'I live at the edge of the universe/ like everybody else'--have often been quoted in New Zealand as some sort of patriotic delineation of the local.

MILKY WAY BAR

I live at the edge of the universe,
like everybody else. Sometimes I think
congratulations are in order:
I look out at the stars
and my eye merely blinks a little,
my voice settles for a sigh.
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  • Seller location: Wellington City, Wellington, NZ

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