Published 22 October 2015
Purchase from the Hue & Cry website

In these six long poems Sarah Jane Barnett explores how people fight for a normal life. Set in Ethiopia, Paris, Norway, and New Zealand these astonishing poems take you into the lives of others – a grieving man leaves Ethiopia at the end of the civil war; a polyamorous couple have a child; a woman hunts a black bear on a New Zealand sheep station. Original and spellbinding, these poems walk the line between poetry and fiction.
Read the poem ‘Addis Ababa’ from WORK. Read Sarah’s interview about WORK,  ‘A Slut for Beauty.’

Responses to WORK

‘Instant essential reading. I don’t think there are many other poets in NZ who are writing with such consistent acuity and determination.’
Anna Smaill, writer and Man Booker longlistee

‘You’re following these stories of people who all have jobs they have to do, and I really love that because you often read a book and you’re not clear what people are doing, it’s quite insubstantial. And yet jobs are so important, aren’t they? They say who we are…they give us the language we need to describe the world…It’s wonderful writing, it’s challenging, it’s unforgettable.’
Mary McCallum, Radio New Zealand

‘Daring technically…The scientific images, rather than distancing a reader from this startlingly tender poem, are a paradoxical part of its intimacy…Its publication by Hue and Cry Press should add to the growing presence of this publisher and its reputation as a promoter of powerful and original work.’
John Horrocks, Landfall Review Online

WORK is richly imagined and elegantly written. The poems are bold explorations: of language, form and content. Their careful imaginings of the particulars of six different human situations offer a variety of perspectives on the work required to live well – with ourselves and with others. Barnett’s voice is compassionate and intelligent. WORK is relevant, vital and refreshing.’
Sue Wootton, Takahe Magazine

‘In “Addis Ababa,” an Ethiopian immigrant rehearses the losses that have brought him to New Zealand, and explores the business of getting by, fitting in, settling in to work. His work is translation, and as a linguist, he is acutely aware of verbal and cultural gains and losses. His language has a careful, scholarly formality; and there are brief lapses into his mother-tongue when he is stuck for a word or grappling with something untranslatable. Mostly these words are not glossed, so we are left to briefly feel his frustration. For this touching, eloquent sequence alone, the book is worth seeking out.’
Janet Hughes, New Zealand Books: A quarterly review

‘The silver linings that these characters find despite their struggles, all presented through Barnett’s beautiful language, makes WORK a moving portrayal of humanity.’
– Emma Shi, Booksellers

‘Barnett is captivating… she is aching, thoughtful and genuinely inspired.’
Otago Daily Times