in the sky
is there because
Bitch left him
—bad idea bitch—
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.
‘This dazzlingly elegant collection ushers the reader into a palimpsestic world where wistful dreams, ideas of holiness and real-life nightmares would be impossible to tell apart but for Melinda Smith’s use of a scalpel-pen. Chillingly moving.’
‘This book by Melinda Smith is intense and powerfully focused, dark yet also bright with urgency, and full of formal inventiveness. At times Man-handled is unflinching with a forensic rage at voracious and violent white patriarchy, ‘rotten with loss’ in this tense and fractious 21st century. Smith skillfully mobilises the words of others, from the archive, the public record and social media, into a razor-sharp poetry of remix and redaction. At other times she turns to the things of the world, the non-human and non-sentient in particular, as a bedrock of lyric memory. Smith reminds us that all poetry is a form of translation, and that the lyric is intensely social as well as intimate, free flowing as well as formally scrupulous, rich in meaning and the enchantments of language. ‘
‘The poems of Melinda Smith’s Man-Handled glide from gaze to injury. They are embodied, transformative, and like a bruise, tender to the touch.’
‘There is a courageous side to [Smith’s] imagination. I am sure it doesn’t make the writing any easier, but it is the element which appears in her best work’
—Martin Langford, Meanjin
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