Miranda Pearson’s latest collection of poetry, Harbour, looks at ways humans are driven to construct territory in whatever space is available, however borrowed or makeshift. In the first section, “Asylum,” Pearson turns, for the first time in her writing, to her experience of working in psychiatry. We hear the voices of both caregivers and patients, and flit back and forth between these two roles, contrasting and unraveling their meaning.
Moving from hospitals to museums, the poems explore the tensions between antiquity and modernity, and how we collect and display artifacts, preserving life in frozen morgue-like containment. Ideas on hoarding are touched upon, how even assembling a collection of poetry is a type of acquisition—of imagery, words, ideas, and other texts.
In the final section, “This Liminal Home,” lovers hastily improvise make-believe homes in hotel rooms, temporary harbours that provide a fleeting freedom within their anonymous settings. Other poems are situated in airplanes—the quintessential “no-man’s land” betwixt and between time and territory. Architectural imagery recurs throughout the collection, linking the themes of shelter and refuge with bridges, stairs, and corridors.
Harbour—the noun and the verb are interchangeable—illuminates the human drive to nest, gathering together ideas on how we seek refuge, a sanctuary, a keep. How we harbour.