Once again I’ve been struck by the overwhelming beauty of underwhelming objects through poetry. Jude Aquilina and Joan Fenney’s poetry collection Thread me a Button sees past the mundane role of a button to the emotion and comfort these little tools inspire.
The beauty of buttons which is celebrated in this collection shouldn’t surprise me, seeing as one of my favourite things to do at my grandmother’s house when I was a child was to get out her button boxes and spend the afternoon sorting through them. I always had my favourites, and these buttons were always intricately linked to my grandmother. From the image of a button sewn onto a petticoat as a lifelong reminder of a lover killed in war (‘From her Lover’s Uniform’, Joan Fenney) to the act of sewing itself (‘How do Fingers Sense’, Jude Aquilina) this collection breathes life into the many lives a button lives.
I can’t look at my buttons in the same way after reading this collection. I think back to all the buttons I’ve discarded in the past, cast away as I can no longer remember which garment they’re for, and to the buttons which remain lovingly on my coats and shoes and jeans. Maybe instead of throwing them away I should start my own button collection, for my own grandchildren one day.
This collection breathes a simplicity which the poets would have spent hours fine-tuning, tweaking and cutting and adding and taking, until they found the exact rhythm they were looking for, that elusive word, that mood. And Aquilina and Fenney certainly got it right. These poems will take you back to a time when buttons and sewing were amongst the most complicated technologies the world knew.
Ginninderra Press, 2012