These poems move freely in time from the 1950s to the present day, from the contemporary to memoir, from gender politics to bushfires and floods. They show you jeeps, trucks, girlfriends and cane-cutters, widgies, Singer sewing machines, tattoos and rats and class grudges. Sandra Renew uses a range of traditional poetry forms to lay bare some of the gaping fault-lines of gender relations especially as they are experienced by LGBTIQ communities.
An early exchange of Christmas presents leads to a violent outcome for a young drunk couple. A schoolboy finds himself at the centre of a cruel playground bullying ritual. A teenage girl lies to her mother about a sexual assault involving her little sister. A father ruins grand final day for the son who idolises him.
The thirteen stories in Luke Johnson’s debut collection do not shy away from life’s brutalities. Nor do they overlook those moments of genuine intimacy, humour and revelation that imbue the tragic with purpose and with pathos. Set in regional Australia in an era before mobile phones and the internet, these stories will remind you of who and what we are beneath all the cool digital interfaces: animals, burning with ferocity for a mouthful of life’s flesh.