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.
‘Ell’s unique and haunting voice is a companion you quickly find you cannot do without. His vision is expansive, but reverent and old-souled. His poems gaze clear-eyed on scenes of uncertainty, ending, decay and dereliction, but manage at the same time the solace and transcendence of prayer. This book speaks so quietly and compellingly of all the crucial things. You need it by you now.’
‘Intricate, graceful, sublime. The beauty of Theodore Ell’s work is that his poems feel timeless and timely, as if they have always been waiting for us. Ell is a world builder: you don’t just read his poems, you enter them, they invite you in. Every time I return to this collection, I feel as if I’m coming home.’
‘Technically assured and richly evocative, Theodore Ell’s debut collection interrogates our connections with places and with each other, our arrivals and departures, mapping the verges from which we attempt to make sense of our worlds. Poems of extraordinary scope are brilliantly realised: a family history whose enterprising characters are moved by wonders of technology and science; a series of troubled witness statements spoken by pilgrims embarked in the Mayflower, the iron horse, and the moonshot capsule. Ell just as easily finds poetry in a dropped coin or the skimming of a stone. Beginning in exact observation, these deeply felt poems employ a precise music, seasoned with vernacular and wit, that carries us to places of sustained speculation. Beginning in Sight richly repays its demand to be reread and reread.’