the prism and the rose


Poems by Schaeffer Lemalu (1983-2021)
Introduction by Donald Revell
April 2024

The debut collection from a great poet and artist gone too soon. His word is among us, travelling still, full of candour, humility, and a loving regard for detail.

Category: Tag:


Schaeffer is in that rare company of poets who could dismantle the hierarchy of perception. This is a poetics of intimacy: open, rare, unguarded.

—Michael Steven

Schaeffer lived in art where words and images jostle in a friendly-like stripped-out feeling-cut way, like “some great bird / had flown into the milk bar / and i felt all the malanky little hairs / on my plot / standing endwise” while pop culture and police hives break out all through. In this fresh book the poems are streets of reference carried along by blood and feeling—they call out names of loved ones, admired songs and poets, flourishes of curses, and consolations of philosophy: “search for the perfect blossom / and you wont find it / they are all perfect”.

—Lisa Samuels

“Try cry why try / that was just a dream”… loquacious, lyrical and visceral; the prism and the rose is Schaeffer Lemalu singing-seeing-seeking, presenting homages, derivations, imitations. In a slipstream where “there’s no such thing as death” two worlds coalesce in an antipodal echo chamber and song reverberates across fleeting time zones. Lemalu the sleeptalker pays tribute to the many voices that constitute his own, and which assembled, fashion the ‘extraordinary dance’ of his poetry—the twin lenses of the eternal and the instant. Alive and on the move—“singing us awake”—there are poems here of tenderness and elation.

—Sam Sampson

Gentle/tough. An artist with a quiet command of selection, placement and intervention of and with material and occurrence. With casualness yet acuity, his reveries, observed patterns and instances are noted, fixed for a spell into exquisite and often spare records. In unexpected rhythms, rarified accounts are sent forth into the world—delicate, slight, small in scale—they echo outwards… resonate… ever-expansive…

—Victoria Wynne-Jones

Schaeffer Lemalu (1983-2021) was a poet and artist from Auckland. He published two chapbooks, Sleeptalker (2018) and Sleeptalker 2 (2020), and exhibited paintings on numerous occasions at Robert Heald Gallery.