Between the birth of the poet’s daughter and the deaths of his parents, the poems in Monsoon Diary attempt to make sense of the world, from a mid-life flight from home en famille to new perspectives on both the past and the future.
Monsoon Diary strikes an often elegiac tone, betraying a growing awareness of mortality and the many losses that come with age.
But it also bears witness to a country transitioning from dictatorship to democracy, finds the seeds of a new half-crown of sonnets in a line of Catullus, and, in Driving to Delvin, a poem of 84 couplets, breaks out into a kind of road movie of spirited and sometimes random association, bringing all of the book’s many themes and ideas, its fears and hopes, together in a celebration of forward motion, of living itself.
“In Monsoon Diary I found a host of fresh and golden poems for the keeping. Adding layers to my visions of Myanmar and of what it means to live a life between different homes, Woods makes even the most iconic of Myanmar’s images shine with new light.”
— Amy Doffegnies, Mekong Review, Aug/Sept 2019
“His voice is easy, melodic, seeming sometimes casual, sometimes deceptively smooth but always alert. If Woods is technically expert it is not to dazzle but to reveal his subject matter … his work taken as a whole shows an impressive reach
and range. …”
— Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin
“The strength [of the poems] lies so much in their alert poise to the subtlest nuances of melancholy, nostalgia, present absorption and timeless epiphany.”
—Matthew Clegg, Staple