The most striking thing about LAVA LAMP POEMS is the sense of intimacy.
Higgs writes of experiences that are hers and hers alone: her father marinating fish the day he died, her young daughter’s perception that everything in the house (including the lava lamp from which this collection takes its name) is hers and watching her new-born daughter fight for her life in the Neonatal ICU. And yet every poem touches on an emotion, an experience, an event, that – but for a few altered specifics – could have been plucked straight from my life.
This is because, in the recounting of her personal experiences, Higgs focuses on the fine details of reality, but also stretches across the minutiae of one woman’s life to tap into the collective pool of universal perceptions and feeling.
One of my favourite lines: “My tiny alien creature alone, but not entirely: she’s attached to wires and tubes.”
The vivid imagery of this line, like many others in this poignant collection, so perfectly contrasted practical aspects with feelings, that I could only gulp back tears at the depth of emotion so matter-of-factly expressed, and yet so tightly contained in both her heart and in the brevity of the words she uses.
While her world is firmly set in South Africa (from Jeppestown to the Mount Nelson in Cape Town), the emotions, humour and compassion lift these poems to level where any reader, whether from Timbuktu or Tasmania, could easily relate to them
Higgs’ strength as a poet clearly lies in her natural ability to carve out of her ordinary world a depth of meaning that touches the heart with all that is familiar.