Via numerous portrait poems of real and fictitious people revealed in Our Ways On Earth Peter Bakowski returns our attention to the individual. Via clear, non-judgemental portraiture Our Ways On Earth saves, for our consideration, individuals who might otherwise be buried, lost to us, under a slag heap of statistics, demographics and generalisation.
Whether in the Venetian footsteps of Vivaldi, at the birth of the Owen and Sassoon violins or the score of a Sam Peckinpah film, these poems present a wealth of musical scenarios, all interconnected in their themes, tonality and form. Their reverberations reach across time and space, from England and Italy to the Australian outback, with the visual arts also in the mix. And yet the core of this book is deeply personal, the poet present as a ten-year-old boy, lover, grandfather – or anachronistic witness – at the various trials of life through which creativity and even humour somehow flourishes.
Ragged Disclosures is a prose poetry collection that investigates liminality, intersubjectivity and the prose poetic sequence. These sequences combine to create a complex and distributed depiction of an intimate relationship during the COVID-19 pandemic in this era of climate change and political instability. As the volume considers the protagonists’ diverse experiences, it explores the development of connected poetic tropes while highlighting tensions between prose poetry’s compression and the countervailing tendency for sequential works to present an unfolding narrative arc. The inherent raggedness of the narrative gestures, combined with prose poetry’s condensed and suggestive boxes, is playful, contemporary and quintessentially poetic.
With stunning formal range and architectural design, Anders Villani’s second collection explores how violence engenders selfhood by calling it into radical question. What does it mean to suffer in a body that also symbolises power? How can poetry, alert to the ‘blur’ and the ‘panorama’, trace this moral dissonance at its subtlest and most intimate? How do notions of illness and recovery, victim and perpetrator, rest on fraught archetypes, and what alternate understandings emerge when these foundations waver? Villani roves between myth, confession, narrative, and dream to address such questions—not abstractly, but through the experiences of a subject whose capacity to love and be loved is at stake.
Novelistic in arc and scope, lyrically sensuous and searching, Totality invites readers on a journey of self-inquiry that dredges new channels in the contemporary poetics of trauma. As secrets reveal and conceal themselves, through the crucible of hypermasculinity, and with unstinting compassion, Villani’s poems venture an expansive and timely music.
Anita Patel’s second collection of poetry takes us on a voyage into history, heritage, mythology and family. These poems scatter and drift through layers of time, across cultures and continents. They offer glimpses into past worlds and present realities. They pay tribute to the yearning of a migrant heart, the search for home and the tensile strength of women. This is poetry that peers through the cloudy lens of memory to examine the tattered web of relationships, language, landscapes and stories which make up a self.
These are poems of love and loss, they imagine a world where hawks fly from the arms of lovers and disappear into a dying world, where golden fish rise from rivers and tangle themselves in hair, where molecules and mist carry messages of love through cites. In this collection, beginnings and endings slice across each other, modern and mythic intertwine, the everyday is stirred into a world of metaphor and incantation. Individual poems chime off each other, creating strands of narrative which circle the collection’s central symbol, the nekhau — small fish-shaped amulets crafted by ancient Egyptians and plaited through the hair of loved ones to ward off drowning. In a contemporary and at times imaginary world, the poems become nekhau, articulating the fears and dangers underlying love in order to subdue them. In doing so the poems transform many tropes of love poetry, repositioning them in contexts both everyday and otherworldly. The bodies in these poems fight against the mortality of love, they borrow lore and build new myths as a way to protect love’s fragility. Glistening with musicality and precision, these poems twist and shimmer like fish leaping toward the fears that have shaped them.
Beginning in Sight is Theodore Ell’s first poetry collection. It brings together work written over more than ten years, tapping into the memories, life-stories and mirror-images that resist time and recouple bygone experience to the drifting world of today. The poems branch out from Ell’s original home of Sydney into its hinterland, the coast and the Hunter, snatching moments of respite and pleasure in troubled times, before finding new bearings in the Canberra region. Haunted by the presence of vanished lives and histories, these are poems of perseverance, endurance and a past that seems to know what is coming.
In Our Tongues Are Songs, Rico Craig pursues the intimate, the voices people use as they speak to their private fears. Craig brings his unique ear for lyricism, his eye for human need, to bear on the promises people make to themselves as they attempt to find solace, companionship and meaning. His haunting use of image fills the day-to-day world with the uncanny — bats are comforted by children, old women weep tattoos, the earth burns, television stars comfort teenagers as they struggle with anorexia, encroaching sands spill the dead into an unnamed city. This book spans voices, generations and countries; it sides with the young and old as they try to carve their humanity from the swirls of despair.
‘These poems of bone, sky, night and earth pulse with danger and exaltation. Selves spectral, imagined and embodied dissolve the solitary ‘I’ to imagine flocks of selves, dancing with knives in their hands, standing on rooftops, never forgetting what it is to be at our wildest. They overflow with loosened energy, yet their crafting is meticulous, brilliant and exact.’ Felicity Plunkett