Jennifer Mackenzie

Jennifer Mackenzie is a poet and reviewer, focusing on writing from and about the Asian region. Her most recent work is Navigable Ink (Transit Lounge 2020) which she presented in 2023 at the Ubud Writers Festival and at the Mathrubhumi Festival of Literary Arts in Trivandrum.

Jennifer Mackenzie Reviews Grace Yee and Adam Aitken

“The limits of my language are the limits of my world.” During the excitement of multiple events and literary get-togethers at the Ubud Writers Festival this year, the Indian poet, Sudeep Sen, brought to my attention Wittgenstein’s well-known quotation from the Tractatus of 1922. It seemed particularly apt as multiple languages, overheard in the daily comings and goings around festival sites, lit up many a conversation.

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Memories of a Revolution

1. Bandung Conference 1955 the non-aligned emerging nations a roar of post neo-colonialism a communiqué flourished in optimism Sukarno the conductor striking up an orchestra now enter a museum of flags 2. Borobudur 1959 Sukarno hosting Che Guevara Che a …

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Jennifer Mackenzie Reviews Elif Sezen’s A little book of unspoken history

In these times many of us from all corners of the globe have more than one place we call home. Concepts of nationality, attachment to place, a sudden annunciation of enlightened belonging or steadfast refusal of it can be dissociative, painful and conversely full of artistic promise.

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Jennifer Mackenzie Reviews Lưu Diệu Vân

Reading M of December is rather like going to a spectacular exhibition at a gallery where images of all kind swirl, proclaim, collide and re-form – the viewer takes the opportunity of a brief leave to attempt to come up with a coherent response. Having gone into this gallery, and exited on a number of occasions, what I have come up with is a response to the formed fragmentation of its individual poems, travelling through discordancy via the robust vigour of forceful lines and sharp elisions.

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Jennifer Mackenzie Reviews John Mateer

A defining scene in Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s historical novel, Arus Balik (Cross-currents), portrays the moment in 1511 when colonial power came to the Southeast Asian archipelago. In the following passage about the fall of Malacca, Pramoedya presents a society unaware (or ‘becalmed’ as Pramoedya puts it) of what is about to confront it.

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Work Is

‘We stand in the rain in a long line waiting at Ford Highland Park. For work.’ Phillip Levine, ‘What work is.’ 1. JANUARY you’ve waited for work and it has come marking gratis all weekend the head smashed and foggy …

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Jennifer Mackenzie Reviews Asia Pacific Writing Series Books 1-4

Vagabond Press has recently issued four attractively presented volumes of poetry from the Asia Pacific region. Each contains the work of three poets and represents China, Japan, Vi-etnam and the Philippines, respectively.

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Lucy Guerin Inc 28 Batman St West Melbourne 19/3/14:11.30-1 Dancing new work Make feet swan neck swoop Uh ha uh haha Silence ooh! Wh whwh heel around heel Everything depends on what happens next Who who aspirated Hahaha whwhwh Uhhahawhwhwh …

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Notes from Mandalay, Burma

Stepped out at Mandalay airport, a good 40 minutes’ drive to Mandalay.

Bare dry landscape with the odd splash of colour from planted flowerbeds.

Shared the bus ride into town with Jung Chang, author of Wild Swans, Sudah Shah (The King in Exile), Peter Popham (The Lady and the Peacock) and Dr John Casey. Casey is from the renowned mentor of Pascal Khoo-Thwee, author of the exquisite From the Land of Green Ghosts. As we motored past the road posts, John said here they measure not miles or kilometres but FURLONGS! He said he’d once been directed to a local post office as being ‘two furlongs away’. A large friendly town dominated by the moat-encircled Mandalay Palace grounds and Mandalay Hill awaited us.

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Review Short: Yan Jun’s You Jump to Another Dream

Yan Jun’s poetry works through his experience of contemporary China by employing an aesthetic that is traditionally grounded in observation of the momentarily significant. He is captivated by the dazzle of a new consumerist culture only when that dazzle is spectral and fleeting. In an interview with Cristen Cornell (‘Lost in the Supermarket with Yan Jun’, Artspace China blog, University of Sydney) he decries the consumption culture’s take on art as a ‘production process’ which removes ’the possibility for uncertainty’ and what is ‘unknowable in individuals’. He comments on the inextricable logic of cultural monuments such as the Forbidden Palace being preserved while the traditional living areas, the Beijing hutongs, are pulled down, symptomatic of a daily life becoming ‘more and more deprived’.

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