Leaf is Elvey’s sixth full length poetry collection and takes seriously John Charles Ryan’s provocation ‘how might we imagine plants?’, for it is this work of empathic imagining, and decentring of the human, that will offer us any chance of a future in the current age of species collapse and climate catastrophe.
What might it have been like to visit the Braes Hotel, to peer across to the great poet, George Mackay Brown, seated at the window, ale in hand, and then to his lips, looking out to all of Stromness and to the sea?
Practitioners of meditation are like poets in a few ways. The meditator spends long periods of time studying the contents of their attention, becoming familiar with the patterns of sensation, feeling, and thought that make up the experience of being human. Through this study, the practitioner builds an anatomy of experience, and learns something of the world they inhabit — a kind of sense making.
It’s been amazing to work with Yannis on the poetry in this book and on the reciprocal translations we’ve done. It not only connected me back to the teaching work that I loved but also to Greek culture that I’ve only ever had a toe in, always standing on the outside looking in. I think our work has also connected Yannis a bit more with Australian culture and literature, with writing and writers that he was previously not connected with.
Whether these poems refer to historical events, social issues, the difficulty in negotiating the demands of everyday life, loneliness and isolation, selfhood in adverse social conditions, death and beauty, or even poetry itself, they seem to emanate from the same center: a distinct outlook in life and a distinct way of looking at reality.
pressed specimens is a unique collection. Costello has taken images of dried, pressed plant specimens from the collection of the Medicinal Plant Herbarium at Southern Cross University (Lismore Campus) as inspiration for a series of prose poems.
In the writing, poems swirl, hiccup, rove, lose beginnings, endings, words morph to new words, and sometimes the whole thing is shelved. But eventually, if a poem wants to land, it lands. A poem is finished, they say, when it could only be your poem and these poems with their ampersands could only be Chris’s.