Featured Writer Jennifer Maiden: Three New Poems

brookings in fur

Calling this new collection brookings: the noun, on the basis
that brookings are things that trickle the Overton Window
to the Right by focusing on soft left topics, like Me Too,
Women’s Status and Ecology and Same-Sex Marriage –
even though all these are noble causes – creates some creature
in the mind: soft little Brookings, a pink-nosed squeaker
too gentle for words like Global, War or Money, who
would not know the price of a gun. I feared to describe him,
in case I became trapped, like Jann Harry almost in Peter,
but you are too shrewd to fall in love with fur,
and Jann discarded artful innocence anyway.
In fact, I was at least once Max in her poems, when
I explained that Iran ran the Basra Secret Service,
.                                      and Max
said the same thing to Braid the next day. I may
have been Max at times, and my own George Jeffreys,
or Clare, or any of the others, single voice or pair.
But would I want to become little Brookings?
I see him with small claws. They close on you
and your heart becomes a real physical thing,
with a compulsion to protect him. Let her protect me,
great Spirit of the Universe, my ancestral Durga,
with her many limbs, from all that’s born to narrow
the vision to a bright domestic window. But once now
I will pass small Brookings to you for a hug. He
needs one, as we all do. His eyes are very pure,
he lives by the morning water,
he yearns, like all of us, to climb a tree and stay there,
nothing clear but his headlight-stare. I will give to you
his unforgettable softness: as profound as all live fur,
but you, like me, may never let him go.

‘brookings in fur’ read by Jennifer Maiden (Quemar Press, 2018)

Rope

They threatened and promised so much,
and why when I was contained, numberless,
and posed no threat?
We’ll talk soon of Elbridge Colby.
But I ask you to hold this rope,
as no postmodernist conceit.
My weight will rip inside your armpits
and I’ll sway like a corpse
back and forth on blind depths
too lightless even for black, too deaf
for wet echo. There’ll
be a time when you let go,
in pain beyond a choice. But
the rope is not suicidal. I can fly
here evenly for a time. I will list
some faces of suicides: Grace
or Joan Maas perhaps who at first
thought writing was a brook
to refresh and for respite. But
this is not the end of Childe Roland.
There is one of you, not a mass
in gloating darkness on a mountain.
Have you heard of Elbridge Colby?
We will move from my state,
as I do in truth to survive,
to the personal and worldly.
Tacitly condoned by the New York Times,
Democratic Party, Colby who was ‘Joint
Under Secretary in charge of strategy
and developing the force’, has written
for the Council of Foreign Relations
that the War on Terrorism is gone
and that we will go nuclear again
against Russia and China. The Council
know they can contain anything.
Hold the rope.
I will fall from my state
without numbers without hope
without promise without threat
to the personal and worldly.
We can talk about Elbridge Colby.

 

‘What Did They Do with the Bits?’

Princess Diana woke up in Theme Park Nirvana, drowsy and pretty
next to Mother Teresa and flushed with curiosity. The Park
was closed for repairs but people came, went, happily through
the wide side gate. She and Teresa watched and waved
to them. In life, much as she loved her, she had suspected
at times that Teresa was a star-fucker, but now she knew
that not to be the case: star-fuckers always pick the wrong
people they think stars and Teresa had picked right ones. She
could discuss anything with her, and now was fascinated
with the death of Dodi’s cousin Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi
Consul in Turkey. She explained: ‘Dodi’s mother was the sister
of the Arms Dealer Anan Khashoggi, and Anan was Jamal’s
Uncle. Jamal was involved with a lot of arms and CIA stuff
before he went home to the Washington Post. Why do
you think the CIA didn’t warn him the Saudis would snuff
him at the Consulate?’ She had merry eyes, as if she drew
Teresa’s attention to an enticing chessboard. Or maybe
Monopoly – she’d taught it to Teresa. Teresa said: ‘They
may not have thought the Saudis would be so obvious.
But the Saudis would have been the priority to please
because of the Crown Prince working with Israel against
Iran and everybody wants the Yemen oil…’ Diana
interrupted: ‘But the Crown Prince’s a fruitcake, bumps off
and tortures all his rellies. And the CIA has another
Prince they want to replace him with. And of course
that is meant to embarrass Trump. So poor old Jamal
was strangled and dismembered. The Turks probably
think the U.S. will soften sanctions and that Russia
will support them because the Russians always adore
an opportunity. What did they do with the bits, do you
think, the Saudis?’ Teresa was a bit behind on that story:
‘I thought they found him in a well?’ ‘No, that was phony.
The Turks are drip-feeding the news cycle for concessions.
Now they say he was dissolved in acid, but I don’t know
if the Saudis would do that – they’re into public display,
if only among themselves. The Prince surely
would have wanted the writing-hand for a souvenir.’
Teresa was tuned in to Diana’s relish for lateral facts.
She asked, ‘What music do you think the surgeon
they flew in to cut up the body was listening to?
On the tape apparently he told the team he always
puts on earphones when he is dissecting. I thought
there was a problem for strict sects in liking music?’
‘They’re not all that strict in private, apparently.
The scotch in the royal safes is Johnny Walker.
Dodi can tell you anything about them.’ Teresa
became uneasy. She did not like to think of Diana’s
dying, although Diana would speculate enthusiastically
about it, as on any other thing. She knew, however,
the topic saddened Teresa, and anyway Teresa
had known too much in general of death. Her affection
for Diana was a desert thirst for water. More than distraction,
here the workings of the world were precious breath.

-Jennifer Maiden

 

First published in Rochford Street Review, ‘brookings in fur’, ‘Rope’ and ‘What Did They Do with the Bits?’ will be included in Jennifer Maiden’s forthcoming collection brookings: the noun.


Jennifer Maiden photo Katharine Margot Toohey

Jennifer Maiden, Penrith, N.S.W., 2018. photographer: Katharine Margot Toohey.

Jennifer Maiden was born in Penrith, NSW. She has had 29 books published – 23 poetry collections and 6 novels. She has won 3 Kenneth Slessor Prizes, 2 C. J. Dennis Prizes, overall Victorian Prize for Literature, Harri Jones Prize, Christopher Brennan Award, 2 Melbourne Age Poetry Book of Year, overall Melbourne Age Book of Year, and ALS Gold Medal. She was shortlisted for Griffin International Poetry Prize. In 2018, Quemar Press published her Play With Knives quintet of novels, Appalachian Fall poetry collection and Selected Poems: 1967-2018. Quemar will publish brookings: the noun in 2019.

 

Featured Writer Jennifer Maiden: excerpts from Appalachian Fall, Play with Knives: Five, and Selected Poems: 1967-2018
Featured Writer Jennifer Maiden: Biographical Note

An excerpt of Jennifer Maiden’s forthcoming collection brookings: the noun is available for download on Quemar Press.

 

Featured Writer Jennifer Maiden: excerpts from ‘Appalachian Fall’, ‘Play with Knives: Five’, and ‘Selected Poems: 1967-2018’

Rich Men’s Houses

I have quoted myself once already in a poem,
Uses of Live Odds, that poor men don’t belong
in rich men’s houses. I said it first in an essay,
Death by Persona, about John Forbes. I say
he spent too much time in the houses of those
friends financially better off than he was.
I will tell you how I witnessed the Luna Park
Fire, because I’m thinking bleakly of those
new things I know about it: Lionel Murphy
being friends with the crime boss of Sydney,
Abe Saffron, who is said to have ordered it
so that he could take over the land, a set up
to be approved by the Labour Party. Poor men
are a danger in rich men’s houses. But then
when the fire burned the ghost train, a man
and some children, I was young. I saw it when
I’d had to transfer an opera ticket from my
usual cheap matinees to a sleekly wealthy
First Night of The Girl of The Golden West. It was
the only time I saw Donald Smith sing, his voice
less harsh than the recordings, much more tender
in focus to his soprano, directed only to her,
as if a small fat bald man were ideal lover.
We’ve moved into triplets: I must be nervous.
There was reason to be nervous, but the guess
I had then was only about some fire as such, if
intuitively looking at the exits, fearing smoke.
When it was late and we had left the Opera House,
there was a light reflected in the Harbour
like the shuddering of autumn leaves on tar.
And no one left the pier. One followed their gaze
and saw the flames three times the height of the head,
and clown’s face leer underneath. Next day the dead
were numbered. But I remember the strange tallness
of the pure thick flames, no blackness and no breath
of creeping smoke: all looked intentional.
Someone else there that night was Phil Hammial,
who was a carnival hand. Many of these were out
of work a long time, but he may have been too close
to really see the nature of the beast. I was across
enough water to measure the scope. Poor men
do not belong in rich men’s houses.

-Jennifer Maiden

‘Rich Men’s Houses’ was published in Appalachian Fall (Quemar Press, 2018).

 

Solstice Eve

It was the eve of winter solstice in Australia. Silkie
seemed still safe with the Lithgow Coven, was still eating
bits of the vegan feast they were preparing. In Mt Druitt,
Clare’s mother, Coral, hugged the baby Corbyn closer
and sang to his hair some lullaby in a murmur
like the soft sea at Thirroul outside a window, probably
the sound, Clare thought, in which he was conceived.
She was lulled in a cold armchair with a cup of tea,
which she caressed lingeringly with her fingers,
as it was warmth from her mother, but relieved
that Corbyn like the tea was a conduit now
for the illusive love between them. Perhaps she
was conceived in the same sound, she drowsily
remembered when she was a baby the lullaby
Coral sang next to her cot as much the same noise
as the croonings from the bedroom when her mother
placated one angry husband or another.
.                   Clare’s second-last stepfather
killed himself when she was in prison for her murder
of her younger siblings. George had told her later
using the truth as he did then like a hammer.
But she had never felt she was the cause.
Nor had her mother been the cause of her deaths.
Near her arm there was a square fan-heater, flame effect.
Paper on wire inside turned round, as if the breeze
blew delicate flames on ashes. It also had a mutter
like immortal sea, the room’s noises swirled together
with the midnight wind outside to slow the heart
until the air was beyond time and space. I wonder,
she considered, if this is when and how
I should talk to my mother about jealousy.
Jealousy, too strong for just one object was searing
like an amputation again inside her body,
at some apex of feeling and lack of feeling,
in a skin that was unchosen and imprisoned.
Their gazes relaxed at last in meeting, briefly.
Then they both looked down to concentrate on speech.
Clare said, ‘I don’t know if jealousy is a simple matter.
Do I want to be the baby in your arms, or the you he
trusts and nestles into maybe over there as much
as he does me? If I were only one of you, is that enough
to soothe me? It wasn’t that you didn’t care enough, but
there were always others. You asked me to babysit,
and not go to the movie. I knew at the time you thought
you were helping me to love them, letting me be you,
as if my ego boundaries were too narrow.’ Her mother
said, ‘When you brought up children then they told you
that they learn to love by having responsibility, as if
all the numb ones needed were pet rabbits. I never
thought you did it on purpose.’ The solstice
rain fogged like filmy swaddling on the window.
.             In Coral’s accustomed arms, the baby
stretched away arms-length: bored, fickle or understanding
his mother’s defeated sadness. Glow, from wire and paper,
flickered on him as Clare took him back in keeping.

-Jennifer Maiden

Jennifer Maiden’s ‘Solstice Eve’ was published in Play With Knives: Five: George and Clare, the Malachite and the Diamonds: a novel in prose and verse (Quemar Press, 2018, pp.105-107).

 

Mary Rose

One thing among the many things I love
about Gen Y is that they’re ready to accept
transgender in anything, as if Caitlyn Jenner
was the best fan fiction ever. I’m thinking of Emily Bronte
having baked the bread for her family,
charging over the moors, with a rapturous dog
and a headful of Heathcliff and Cathy. I’m thinking
of the first and one of the best English
novels, Defoe’s Roxana, written in a saucy
female first person: never marry a fool, she says,
ladies, whatever: you must never marry a fool. I’m
thinking of Alfred Hitchcock, after Marnie, eager
to film Barrie’s Mary Rose. He’d seen the play
in England as a boy: in England, where the police
locked him as a child in a cell, to frighten
any trace of crime away, his parents quite okay
with that: Oh, God. The plot of Mary Rose
is that a little girl on a remote Scots island goes
AWOL into mystery, returns the same, but later
visits as young bride with baby, does
the moonlight flit forever, until one
day her grown-up son returns to find
her, by accident: the child-ghost-mother,
perching on his knee: a little ‘ghostie’,
transcending any fear. I think, from memory,
they part again, but everything seems better. He
should have made that movie, despite
studio screams about money. After Marnie,
he was opened like an oyster in the dark. The Hitchcock
blonde, of course, is Hitchcock, hence
his tendency to beat her, but now here
Marnie was allowed an understanding, maybe
relief from retribution: we escape
those hours in the killing cell at last. I’m
thinking of Gen Y with real thanksgiving. When I
was young and used male first person in my
novels, my feminist critics – as if I wasn’t one –
were horrified that I seemed to want to be
a dull man when I was still really such an
interesting real-life woman. Really. Now they’ve
grown old as me, some still seem to disparage
transgender as if they had monopoly
.                            austerely
on anything female, or indeed maybe
on all things that can stop the living body
claiming its other half in any way.  Gen Y
would have no problem with moorbound Emily
in perfect English hymn metre writing ‘There let
thy bleeding branch atone’, or Keats, becoming
Lamia so he could face the autumn, writing ‘You
must be mine to die upon the rack
if I want you’ to an unfazed Fanny Brawne. The psyche
well-expressed splits like an atom. It’s energy
flies wild as the unconfined electrons
of lightning finding home.

-Jennifer Maiden

Mary Rose’ was published in Selected Poems: 1967-2018 (Quemar Press, 2018).


Jennifer Maiden photo Katharine Margot Toohey

Jennifer Maiden, Penrith, N.S.W., 2018. photographer: Katharine Margot Toohey.

Jennifer Maiden was born in Penrith, NSW. She has had 29 books published – 23 poetry collections and 6 novels. She has won 3 Kenneth Slessor Prizes, 2 C. J. Dennis Prizes, overall Victorian Prize for Literature, Harri Jones Prize, Christopher Brennan Award, 2 Melbourne Age Poetry Book of Year, overall Melbourne Age Book of Year, and ALS Gold Medal. She was shortlisted for Griffin International Poetry Prize. In 2018, Quemar Press published her Play With Knives quintet of novels, Appalachian Fall poetry collection and Selected Poems: 1967-2018. Quemar will publish brookings: the noun in 2019.

 

Featured Writer Jennifer Maiden: Three New Poems
Featured Writer Jennifer Maiden: Biographical Note

Appalachian Fall, Selected Poems: 1967-2018, and Play With Knives: Five: George and Clare, the Malachite and the Diamonds: a novel in prose and verse are available for purchase from Quemar Press and selected bookshops.

 

Featured Writer Jennifer Maiden: Biographical Note

Jennifer Maiden photo Katharine Margot Toohey

Jennifer Maiden, Penrith, N.S.W., 2018. photographer: Katharine Margot Toohey.

Jennifer Maiden was born in Penrith, NSW. She has had 29 books published – 23 poetry collections and 6 novels. She has won 3 Kenneth Slessor Prizes, 2 C. J. Dennis Prizes, overall Victorian Prize for Literature, Harri Jones Prize, Christopher Brennan Award, 2 Melbourne Age Poetry Book of Year, overall Melbourne Age Book of Year, and ALS Gold Medal. She was shortlisted for Griffin International Poetry Prize. In 2018, Quemar Press published her Play With Knives quintet of novels, Appalachian Fall poetry collection and Selected Poems: 1967-2018. Quemar will publish her next collection, brookings: the noun early next year.

Featured Writer Jennifer Maiden: Three New Poems
Featured Writer Jennifer Maiden: excerpts from Appalachian Fall, Play With Knives: Five, and Selected Poems: 1967-2018

Appalachian Fall, Selected Poems: 1967-2018, and Play With Knives: Five: George and Clare, the Malachite and the Diamonds: a novel in prose and verse are available for purchase from Quemar Press and selected bookshops.

 

A Discursive Poetics: Caitlin Maling Reviews ‘Drones and Phantoms’ by Jennifer Maiden

Drones and Phantoms by Jennifer Maiden Giramondo Publishing 2014

Drones and PhantomsIn her eighteenth book Drones and Phantoms Jennifer Maiden returns to war. This is perhaps unsurprising as we remain a country, and a world, embedded in conflict and no other poet exists as purely in the Kairos of our exact sociopolitical moment as Maiden. Hers is a discursive poetics, in conversation and argument with day-to-day events and the people that influence them—definitively a poetry aimed at bringing us the news.

This is evident in her use of three recurrent poetic structures, George Jeffreys poems, diary poems and what can be loosely termed a public-figure-wakes-up-has-enigmatic-conversation-with-other-public-figure poems (think Hilary Clinton chatting with Eleanor Roosevelt). These primarily dialogic forms are features of her previous books, (most notably the preceding four) extending out each collection into an extended poetic dialogue. Although each poem, each book, remains discrete, it’s more in the way that a particular phone call ends than in the limits of a physical object. This is what allows Maiden to stay so particularly in the present. ‘Hilary and Eleanor 10: The Coppice’ is, as the name suggests, the tenth of a series of conversations. In this one we find Hilary recounting the Bin Laden assassination:

the drone and that Bin Laden episode
of reality TV,’ added Hilary, before
the old lady added them herself. ‘Yes,’
said Eleanor without variation, ‘I thought
watching live assassinations, some of them
involving children wouldn’t be all that
helpful for your health, dear, whether
we speak of arteries or soul, indeed
to have trapped oneself as an audience
to prove oneself an actor isn’t what
I would ever want for you

This is a telling ending. Television and the act of watching, and, subsequently, what watching requires of us, are some of Maiden’s more complex and ambiguous themes. The ‘audience’ spoken of here is simultaneously Clinton, the reader and, most loaded, the poet herself. In these conversation poems, despite the public figures that occur and reoccur, we always get the sense that the poet is interrogating herself. Here she questions whether it is action enough to bear witness and what, if news is converted into entertainment, the nature of that witness is. Can the poet reporting on the action ever escape questions of how much of their witness is self-serving: speech to prove one can speak? It is this complexity that helps Maiden out of corners that could otherwise prove problematically didactic, reminding us of Yeats’s famous mantra “we make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry.”

It is in her diary poems that we best see Maiden levelling her gaze at herself and her craft. Maiden, like Yeats, is prone to working and reworking themes, images, ideas and using sequencing through her collections to guide the reader along her thought pattern. In ‘Tanya and Jane’ we find Tanya Plibersek and Jane Austen having tea and chocolates:

Jane was
so sympathetic too about her children.
From her shrewd Slovenian family, Tanya
respected this property of an aunty, grateful
when Jane admired her new baby.

Then in the next poem, ‘Diary Poem: Uses of the Politician’s Wife’, the poet offers us advice on how to read the previous interaction between ‘Tanya and Jane’:

The
policy of the belittling alternative
is so entrenched that when I wrote
a Plibersek Austen poem the assumption
from one practiced reader was that I meant
by describing their relationships with babies
to recommend that over
their professions, although in fact
I was suggesting that a lack
of critical confidence in both areas
was unwarranted and socially defined,
all similes on creation intertwined.

By placing this poem after the originating poem, Maiden rewrites the first poem and as readers we are compelled to perform a re-reading. In Drones and Phantoms, and particularly in the diary poems, Maiden deftly directs such commentary at her readers and critics, acknowledging the fallibility of poetry to directly communicate, while actually justifying its power. Throughout the collection she highlights ethical or moral ambiguity and the ability poetry has to rest within discomfiture and uncertainty, her frequent rewritings and references to her own past work are key ways she embodies these concerns.

The biggest risk Maiden runs in being so invested in the day-to-day political is in not maintaining freshness. For all the strengths of the collection, the title poem is a curious let down. Weaving snippets of media together—Julia Gillard’s commentary on her hair and discourse on American use of drones—the poem is failed by a lack of the reflexive personal perspective that grounds some of the other political poems. The ending of the poem has pleasing prosody:

…….while some other
indirect country considers surrender
and its teasing leader’s unlucky
hairdresser gives up

however, the poem’s overall sparse pairing of oppositional Australian/American political statements is not extended otherwise through use of voice or image. In this poem what we are left with is news of the temporary sort.

Such is pleasingly not the case for most of the other standalone poems. ‘Maps in the Mind’ uses repetition to establish a tone of questioning insistence, the speaker demanding we engage with Manus Island: ‘too hot, too late, too cold/ the maps-in-the-mind of Manus Island,/ like maps of Manus Island.’ In this poem, as in all of Drones and Phantoms, Maiden proves herself incapable of evasion, forcing herself and her readers to confront the present world and think, not just about the role of poetry, but what role each of us has in our worlds construction, even through just the simple act of looking, of reading.

 – Caitlin Maling

—————————————————————————————————–

Caitlin Maling is a Western Australian poet. Her first collection, Conversations I’ve Never Had, was published earlier this year through Fremantle Press. Shane McCauley’s launch speech for Conversations I’ve Never Had can be found here  https://rochfordstreetreview.com/2015/02/17/the-interplay-of-tones-and-images-shane-mccauley-launches-conversations-ive-never-had-by-caitlin-maling/

Drones and Phantoms is available from  http://www.giramondopublishing.com/author/jennifer-maiden/drones-and-phantoms/

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Gig Ryan reviews Pirate Rain by Jennifer Maiden & Beneath Our Armour by Peter Bakowski

Pirate Rain, Jennifer Maiden, Giramondo Publishing, & Beneath Our Armour, Peter Bakowski, Hunter Contemporary Australian Poets,

Jennifer Maiden’s previous book, Friendly Fire, won The Age Book of The Year in 2006, and in her latest book Pirate Rain, she re-introduces some familiar characters in her ‘cluster’ poems that wind around their several themes. Hillary Clinton and Eleanor Roosevelt commiserate before the 2008 U.S. election, while another sequence of poems brings back two characters from Maiden’s 1990 novel Play with Knives – George Jeffreys, a probation officer, and his lover and ex-patient Clare Collins  (“who had killed her younger siblings as a child” repeats like an Homeric epithet), observing Hurricane Katrina, Beirut and a Somalian pirate ship. These long discursive sequences brim with comedy, irony, drama but uppermost is the possibility of evil or goodness in the world, and whether these are reactions to circumstance or inscribed in character. In these poems, the past co-exists with the present.

Most poems glimpse the chief protagonists in their moments of doubt and crisis – Hillary Clinton seeking succour from Eleanor Roosevelt, George Jeffreys amid the debris of a lurid New Orleans:

In the sixth hour of the storm,
George left the Southern Comfort with his friend,
forced open the door
and walked back towards the nightflood, easily
for the wind walked for him. Soon a broken angel
in stone floated past, and too distant a tiny
nightdress or a child.

Each commences with a character waking up – “Clare Collins woke up in the Paris Hilton. Paris // Hilton was on the TV. Fox News, having disastered // on Iraq, retrained its sites // on Paris Hilton, more in its scope…” yet, across time and continents, as if waking into a dream. Sleep and waking are some of many undercurrents  – “I rhyme most // nearest sleep, like children” is echoed in many poems that end on rhyme. Another theme in Maiden’s work is how events are depicted by the media, mostly TV, that thread through every colourful scene as with Orwell’s pervasive media in Nineteen Eighty-Four: the image replaces the real, as it interrupts, instigates or controls a character’s thought. A sympathetic reader is assumed, and sometimes addressed.  Another humming  layer is how poetry can elaborate these things, jostling time as effectively as television.  Maiden’s work energetically complicates rather than simplifies the world. “Whole as usual only in a crisis”  (‘Clare and Paris’) is one of many ideas these supremely multi-layered poems proffer:

Hillary Clinton woke up in Michigan
in the G.M. plant strike of 1936.
…McCain would win
if they just wanted someone deadly, with
a sheen of compromise…
………………………….(‘Hillary and Eleanor 1: The Companion’)

Peter Bakowski’s Beneath Our Armour traces the development of character, often locating an incident from the past to explain the present. Most are dramatic monologues and portrait poems of artists, an incident illuminating an existence outside of, or parallel with, their work – “The authority I bring to writing // I cannot bring to my life” (‘Portrait of Cyril Connolly, critic’), while other poems depict art as an aid in times of crisis. There is usually some split – just as the book’s title states –  some implied contradiction between life and art – for example the blues musician back at work in the railyards accidentally hearing his own record. Other poems are portraits of criminals,  similarly outside regular employment and regular society, and some autobiographical poems that reach into memory, nostalgia implied with the past tense .

Bakowski’s introduction states his desire to write clearly, to be readily understood, and these poems certainly achieve that.  One problem is that the voices of these characters tend to limpid sameness, and the explanatory voice often enters the prosaic. It is not style of speaking Bakowski wishes to replicate, but to evoke psychology through brief statements and observations. These poems commemorate what often seem inconsequential moments, yet many also wear a sense of foreboding, of tragedies past or to come, as in ‘Sylvia Plath writing in her journal’ – “7 a.m. // Beyond the bedpost // No mirage of glad husband…”  A few poems read like unedited oral histories, where the importance of getting down facts and memories – shorn of art  – seems an ill-fated intention.

Some descriptions are sensitively wrought:
The river is brown-hued, wide.
In its shallows small black fish appear,
hyphens of life

……………………..(‘At Brunswick Heads, New South Wales, September 2006’)

and at their best an understated profundity weaves through many of these poems.

-Gig Ryan

——————————————————————————————-

Gig Ryan is Poetry Editor at The Age newspaper (Melbourne) and a freelance reviewer. She has published numerous books including New and Selected Poems (Giramondo, Australia, 2011); Selected Poems (Bloodaxe, UK, 2012); songs with Disband, Six Goodbyes (1988), and Driving Past, Real Estate (1999), Travel (2006).

Pirate Rain is available from Giramondo Publishing:http://www.giramondopublishing.com/pirate-rain

Beneath Our Armour is available from Hunter Publishing http://hunterpublishers.com.au/books/beneath-our-armour/