Cooke wants us to shake us loose from our tired habits of perception, I think, because this is a crucial step towards responding to the challenges of our climate crisis. We have to rethink, and ultimately dissolve, the Man-Nature dichotomy and the implicit sublimation of Nature that shapes every aspect of our interaction with it. And we have to rethink this relationship that is at the very centre of our understanding of being if we are to fashion any kind of meaningful response, or risk losing every speck of brilliance, of imagination, of love and care and growth that has been part of the human experience. That’s not to say these poems are dark and dour, rather they compel urgency by depicting the stakes.
Besides Jena’s, there is work by Judith Wright, 90-year-old Raymond Curtis, and Wangerriburra elder Aunty Ruby Sims. Historical signboards record the efforts of ‘rainforest women’, local naturalists and botanists who have been, for 150 years, guardians of the environment, many authors themselves. And before that, the long-term custodians, Aunty Ruby’s people.
In every poetry collection, there is one aspect, one overwhelming impression, that we are left with which later comes to define it for us. In Frank’s Wide River, it is the poet’s quiet insistence on reawakening us to the essential wonder of our world that stays with us.
Issue 31. Book Launch. Wild River by Jane Frank, Calanthe Press 2020, was launched by Nathan Shepherdson on 16th August 2020, at the Under the Greenwood Tree Bookshop and Art Gallery, Tamborine Mountain, Queensland.