‘… i’m never just myself …’ : Sarah St Vincent Welch reviews ‘Elegant’ by Ania Walwicz

Elegant by Annia Walwicz, Vagabond Press 2013

WalwiczCover_grandeA block of text, lower case i’s, patterns of repetition and rhymes and rhythms, self, selves, always teetering on the edges of possible narratives – usual definitions and descriptions just don’t work well when trying to review Ania Walwicz’s writing. This is also the case with Walwicz’s Elegant, in the ‘Rare Object’ series from Vagabond Press. As a physical object it is fine papered, slim, pleasing to hold and touch, beautiful, elegant indeed, and rare.

Within, within … an energy breaks, cracks, shifts, re-forms, hammers and sings, darts and dares, and the mechanisms of seeming and how to seem are explored with such lovely and exciting dissonance in this text.

Elegant, like all of Walwicz’s writing, has little punctuation, and so foregrounds the act of reading in the reader’s mind. The reader makes the reading, intuiting each pause, finding breath, a flow, a stop, and traces connections. Elegant demands engagement, to understand, to glean meaning, this text overtly asks the reader to make it (as do all texts) but the reader is very, very aware that they are doing just that.

The reader imagines themselves at the top of the text … and then they fall. Dive. Find. Grab. The experience of the text demands to be inside it in a way that is just so Walwicz. And in truth, it is an adventure, but a gorgeous one, a privilege. If part of the pleasure of reading is to experience other states, and other experiences, Elegant does this well.

Elegant is –

Vital and funny –

i’ll just roll a broom to clean up my head the will you get up
off the floor she wanted to be so l’élégant but now she wears a
dressing gown some one to identify then who is speaking

Playful and absurd –

long hair i will twirl around on top of a hat the head then the
house on top of a hill i will stretch and build a hair house
then all piled on top of a roll in a roll beginning with a


Mutable and oblique –

show i am looking mirrors again but what do i see the body
get so strange when i’m too all alone fingers the tabernacles
tentacles of an oyster then the fingers are octopus weaving

Shifting and multiple –

will change into a different person when you put on new
clothes you will change into another then i will change and i


Textual and odd –

was mine i sometimes think all lived out is all out of books
i’m just a fictitious girl making myself up bit by bit how
would you do they say how come i just know so much even

Corporeal and philosophical –

the senses open up up you open up my nose then life is never
enough and enough it’s not fair to only have one body at a
time then or my body gets shorter no legs and arms i’ll sit on


Performative and reflexive –

oh please but i’m sick of her who does she think she is the
writer is unimportant it’s the actress i am brushing my hair
and brushing i have a cat in my hair stroking sparky i am


Elegant and percussive –

is the maker of the slip string word dress me then all up i am
all done up the make the most elegant then heyday of the


Elegant examines the awkwardness of social experience and aspirations and how we manage them. The tension between the elegant object that is the book itself, and the exuberant, elliptical play of language within it, makes a startling adventure in reading.

– Sarah St Vincent Welch


Elegant is available from http://vagabondpress.net/collections/rare-object-series/products/ania-walwicz-elegant

Sarah St Vincent Welch grew up swimming in Middle Harbour and now loves walking on Mt Majura. She teaches creative writing in the community. She co-edited The Pearly Griffin – the story of the old Griffin Centre with Lizz Murphy, and two short story anthologies – The Circulatory System and Time Pieces with Craig Cormick. She also co-edited FIRST: Surrender with Francesca Rendle-Short in 2007 (a student anthology at the University of Canberra). Her short fiction (or long poetry), has been anthologised, and published in independent magazines. Her chapbook Open will be published by  Rochford Street Press in 2015. She blogs about reading and writing and time and space at sarahtvincentwelch.com


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