in the sky
is there because
Bitch left him
—bad idea bitch—"
Melinda Smith is a poet, editor, teacher, arts advocate and event curator based in Canberra. She is the author of seven other poetry collections, including the 2014 Prime Minister’s Literary Award-winner Drag down to unlock or place an emergency call. She frequently collaborates with artists in other disciplines including dancers, musicians and visual artists, and is also a former poetry editor of The Canberra Times. She lives and writes in the ACT, on Ngunnawal country.
Man-handled, Melinda Smith’s seventh poetry collection, includes the found-text chapbook Listen, bitch plus new work from the last three years. Its central concern is gendered violence, both verbal and physical. These poems also extend their gaze to violences perpetrated in the names of colonialism, nationalism and capitalism. While this is Smith’s angriest book, it still takes time to celebrate moments of connection and wonder.
Poet Melinda Smith and artist Caren Florance are back with another excursion into the linguistic and visual pleasures of found text, a joint practice which brought us 2017’s Members Only. With this book, Listen, bitch, they turn their attention to misogynist language, working with a corpus of several decades’ worth of statements by powerful Australian public figures (and other blokes with big platforms). By listening very closely to the snarlings of what Kate Manne calls the law enforcement branch of the patriarchy, these poems attempt to map the lines women are still not supposed to cross in contemporary Australia, and to document the consequences suffered when they do. The results are sometimes harrowing, sometimes ridiculous, and always thought-provoking.
1962. Menzies was in power, Whitlam was deputy Opposition Leader, and the cold war was in full swing. Canberra was steadily transforming froma town in a paddock to a city with a lake. This is a year in the life of the building that held all the action: Old Parliament House. One of the outcomes of a collaborative project between poet Melinda Smith and artist Caren Florance, this poetic work is an exercise in re-voicing the past and placing it in conversation with the present.