We write – we have always written – as a species who have over centuries aimed to elevate ourselves over nature. We write about our planet now with a renewed consciousness. However, the eye and the hand that is capturing it also has a hand in destroying it. Each one of us – some in very small and some in large ways, some knowing and unknowing, some thinking and unthinking – are contributing to it.

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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.

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This is a book with a significant vision. It brings renowned thinkers into a communal space, like a galvanising symposium or an inspiring protest. Each thinker, by activating their various practices through art, poetry, speeches and essays, moves us towards a just and ecologically sustainable, peaceful existence.

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The poems in this collection fell into natural pairs; the long list became a short list a clear tone came through, a sinfonia emerging with a crescendo half-way through in Draft Lottery, 1969, easing back down through the ekphrastic poems (poems responding to artwork) and ending in the slow movement of the title poem: a poetry collection to be read in one sitting — a beginning, middle, an end.

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Cliff Fyman has been around the Poetry Project in New York for close to four decades, a quiet, athletic presence who has been known to juggle while reciting his work. Which was excellent, but somehow he was quietly overlooked. 

 Not any more. Cliff has produced one of the most exciting books I’ve read in ages. It’s shocking to discover that Taxi Night (Long News Books) is his first full-length book.

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It his hard not to respect someone who has had the courage to devote themselves full-time to writing in Australia given the hand to mouth existence that this kind of life often ensures. And judging by much of Henderson’s poetry, his life has not been an easy one. Indeed, it appears to have been a constant search for a light at the end of the tunnel.

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Justin Lowe is a poet, editor and occasional reviewer who lives in a house called Doug in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney where he edits poetry blog Bluepepper. His seventh collection, The Picketer, was released late last year, and his latest, Hall of Mirrors, is currently doing the rounds of publishers. He has had poems put to music by such acts as The Whitlams and The Impossibles, and has published widely around the world, most recently in Meanjin,  Verity La, Blue Nib (Ireland) The Cortland Review (USA).

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