Throughout his forties and fifties Phillip found himself on a sticky wicket: the grief for his baby son and younger brothers, suicide attempts, self-harming, the premature termination of his career, and the failure of religious belief to explain or console. In and out of psychiatric care, he has been treated for PTSD, severe depression and social anxiety. There are consolations: family, companion greyhounds, Sunshine, the Western Bulldogs and Australian Football, books, the fine and performing arts but, for Phillip, this remains a time of loss and despair. This is, therefore, a collection of lamentations, achingly focused on what it is to live with poor mental health, but it is also a defiant celebration of survival and the redeeming power of familial love, sport and the arts.
In Animals with Human Voices you will find worms that dream of god, jellyfish weary of immortality, a powerless Superman, some illogical observations on aliens’, a lightning conductor tired of lightning and the truth about Elvis. In multi award-winning poet Damen O’Brien’s debut collection, his cinematic eye and love of nature deliver poems which are ciphers for the normal concerns of every human: love, life and death and what we leave behind.
Stephen Gilfedder’s Way Stations features selected poems from the past 40 and more years. The chronology leads us from the contemporary to his initial fully realised work. Throughout, people – in their various guises, locations and predicaments – are the abiding concentration. An important aspect is the observation and recording of human mutability in time, place and circumstance. The personal dimension is explored across its contradictions, from commitment to uncertainty, to self-discovery and perseverance. Throughout the language is rich and rhythmic, steeped in the Australian vernacular.
‘Gilfedder’s unforced and liquid vernacular is sharpened and made memorable by his vivid and exacting imagery. These poems are moments observed from the inside and outside, narratives that are as particular as the shape of a place-name in the mouth, yet as universal as the waystations of every life.’
If we are to speak, what is it we must speak? If we are allowed to speak, what is it we must say? Who constitutes the ‘we’ that speaks? Anne Elvey’s new collection frames such questions against the contemporary world and its multiple challenges. These poems in turn explore environmental encounters, subtle and overt expressions of the political, the elisions of history, the embodiment of the world and the nature of grace, through poetry sharply attuned to its subject matter. For Elvey, poetry has an obligation not only to chart intimate moments, but also to draw those moments towards the numinous matter of our Earthy habitats.
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
Intellectually ambitious and culturally engaged, these poems speak of Sartre, Zola and Jackson Pollock, of Western Australia’s firewatch trees and Dubbo’s gibbons, of the poet-batsman Stevie Smith, of youth and age. Ranging in form, James Lucas’s poems ask to be reread rather than assented to, and are written in the belief that poetry is both solvent and fresh lick of paint.
‘James Lucas’s poems explode with brilliance, warmth and music’— Stuart Barnes
What would you do if you looked up and saw that the night sky was darker than usual? That the stars had disappeared, and nobody was doing anything about it?
What do you do when a loved one tells you that their world is darker than usual? That they see no light, and don’t know what to do about it?
Errant Night is an exploration of resilience executed imperfectly. In this sequence of prose poems, Beaumont draws upon the sci-fi wonders of interstellar travel and spaceship mechanics to throw comparative light upon the realities of living with the burden of loss.
From the author of the David Unaipon award winning novel Dancing Home.
Paul Collis’ first collection of poetry is a book of difficult truths and profound connections. It charts a life lived on the streets, on country, in the deep time of tradition, of relationships to land and family. This book mourns those who have passed, and the current state of places and people held close in the heart and in the kinds of knowledge inseparable from self that might be called ‘being’, but is always much more than that. It is also a poetry of hope in the hopeless, of beauty in small moments, and the overwhelming ‘now’ that is memory.
In his teens, Ross Donlon had poems published in The Bulletin, Australia’s iconic journal, and in 1965, the literary editor predicted ‘an exciting future’ for the young poet. Donlon’s next poem was published thirty-three years later. In a ‘second budding’ he has had many poems published across Australia and overseas and read at festivals both at home and in Europe. For the Record charts his journey as a poet over five decades, including the Bulletin poems, and the later dark and comic poems for which he has become well-known.
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.
In each of the stories in this collection, the authors examine the conundrum and contradiction of human experience through carefully crafted narrative detail. The brevity of short-form fiction makes it an apt vessel for capturing the haunting incompleteness of human experience. Memorable short stories resonate because they are attentive to specificities and particularities: to detail as it relates to a distinct focalising consciousness. The authors in this collection employ narrative detail with intuitive hands and minds, fashioning an apprehended fictional world, an abstracted reality that resonates beyond the final lines of text. Each story here is marked by the urgency of idea, captured as raw sensory data. Collectively, they are attentive to the crucial relationship between idiosyncratic voice and sharply rendered detail, creating an experiential world that ‘feels real’ to the reader.
Care Stop is Sarah Rice’s poetic and photographic reflection on the vagaries of homelessness and the topography of empathy. The book begins with the poem ‘Care Stop’ and is followed by a series of altered images featuring the iconic ACT bus stop shelter. Care Stop is produced in a limited edition, and is proudly supported by artsACT.
These poems emerged slowly, and through aleatory conversations between Shé and Jen, in which they identified points of connection in and beyond poetry. Both poets are interested in experiment, and in women poets’ voices; both have lived in Western Australia and been captivated by the light, the space, and the vastness of that state; and both poets have spent a fair bit of time in mourning and in responding to the loss of loved ones. They are also interested in movement in creative and scholarly terms. For Shé, the elemental world is a motivating force; for Jen, it’s travel—hence the title of this joint publication.
Dominique Hecq’s latest collection is an autobiographical journey into the real and imaginary of Australia. With her ‘faux-Romantic’ preconceptions, Hecq arrives in Australia from Europe in 1985, after a long fascination with the literature of a country she would eventually call home. Spanning thirty years, Tracks fictionalises this journey of uncovering the complex layers of a foreign land and of discovering its people, places and prejudices.
The Incompleteness Book is the result of a call for contributions to the theme: the incompleteness of human experience. The call was distributed in April 2020, amidst the global pandemic of COVID-19. The collection takes an interest in the relationship between the haunting incompleteness of human experience and short form writing. This, together with the unforeseen challenges of COVID-19, as well as the lure of coming together as writers, is the impetus for the book. The submissions are aimed at capturing our individual and collective experience as a composite picture. The contributions were collected in just nine days.
From the author of the award-winning Things I’ve thought to tell you since I saw you last comes a new collection of poems steeped in a sense of dark foreboding. Jumping from the global to the everyday, many of the poems in Nigh chime with the mood that all is not right with the world. Even in the seemingly mundane, or overtly beautiful, Layland finds some uncomfortable truths waiting to be unpicked. Nigh displays the confidence of a poet looking and thinking deeply about the world and offering it up in language as crisp as it is beguiling.