INTRODUCTIONS

Cordite Poetry Review

Introduction to Kris Hemensley’s Your Scratch Entourage

How can one write words about a poet? Last year, Kris Hemensley and I considered Émile Chartier (Alain)’s assertion that ‘men are afraid to complete their thoughts’, on our way to visit Greta Berlin, whom I had first met in Zennor as a small child and whose father, Sven Berlin, had enthralled a young Kris Hemensley in 1963 with the accoutrements of the artist and his first taste of red wine. And down by the harbour in Weymouth, we had already discovered a shared admiration for W S Graham. A framework was emerging.

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Cordite Poetry Review

Introduction to Chris Mann’s Whistlin Is Did

Chris Mann read at Melbourne’s La Mama in the early 1970s, where he first impressed me as a bold exponent of a sort of critical, larrikin and compositional linguistics, and seemed very much at home in the theatre’s performance space, with its nascent egalitarian ethos. Some listeners I noticed may have been equally perplexed as intrigued by his well-timed delivery, his knowingly artful shtick and highly patterned patter.

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Cordite Poetry Review

Introduction to Tony Birch’s Broken Teeth

Cover design by Zoë Sadokierski Don’t think you’ll get away with lightly reading these Tony Birch poems. They are not just words whistling on the wind. They come laden with other gifts. With a whole place: Melbourne. With a long …

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Cordite Poetry Review

Introduction to Jen Crawford’s Koel

Cover design by Zoë Sadokierski The koel is called after its call – its name is onomatopoeic, from the Greek ὀνοματοποιία: ‘ὄνομα’ for ‘name’ and ‘ποιέω’ for ‘I make’. The koel becomes itself as it sings out and is heard …

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Cordite Poetry Review

Introduction to Autumn Royal’s She Woke & Rose

Cover design by Zoë Sadokierski She Woke & Rose introduces us to a poet, Autumn Royal, who is unafraid to spark light in the darkest of places. The poems in this impressive debut collection illuminate the uneasy space of the …

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Cordite Poetry Review

Introduction to Claire Nashar’s Lake

Cover design by Zoë Sadokierski In Lake, Claire Nashar navigates the connections between people and between person and place in a striking elegy not only for her grandmother, leading geology academic Beryl Nashar, but also for Tuggerah Lake, an estuary …

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Cordite Poetry Review

Introduction to Javant Biarujia’s Spelter to Pewter

Cover design by Zoë Sadokierski In Javant Biarujia’s poetry, language matters – matters as in important, and matter as a unifying substance, a material to be transformed, and in so doing, becomes transforming. Particles of language are pounded out, splintered, …

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Cordite Poetry Review

Introduction to Rachael Briggs’s Common Sexual Fantasies, Ruined

Cover design by Zoë Sadokierski The polka originated in nineteenth-century Bohemia. A dance for two, it is reputedly simple to learn. Three steps and a hop, in fast duple time, with various steps – Turning Basic, Pursuit and Waltz Galop …

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Cordite Poetry Review

Introduction to Natalie Harkin’s Dirty Words


Cover design by Zoë Sadokierski

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Cordite Poetry Review

Introduction to Ross Gibson’s Stone Grown Cold


Cover design by Zoë Sadokierski

The works that Ross Gibson has written and edited over the past thirty years could be classed as political aesthetics. In books like Seven Versions of an Australian Badland, chronicling the wretched historical miscreants of Queensland’s Brigalow country, or 26 Views of the Starburst World: William Dawes at Sydney Cove 1788–1791, speculatively tracing English astronomer William Dawes’s scientific work and his relationship with the Indigenous Eora people of Sydney Harbour in a few late years of the eighteenth century, Ross Gibson’s method is procedural. Seven Versions and 26 Views form a compositional design that he has described as ‘fractal’, allowing unfixed multiple views and patterns. The author’s practice of creative fragmentation, applied to the poems and short prose pieces in this new collection, eschews linearity and dull chronology.

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Cordite Poetry Review

Introduction to John Hawke’s Aurelia


Cover design by Zoë Sadokierski

John Hawke’s forensic inquiries in this book are layered with casual erudition – Diderot, Czech poet Vladimir Holan – and locate the poem as transformative state. Many of these poems conclude with a mystical ascent into nature, reminiscent of Patrick White scenes in which the division between consciousness and the universe wavers, signifying that any reconciliation is epiphanic, claimed by art or religion. Yet nature belittles human effort – ‘The path to the point is marked by a scattering / of impermanent hand-made memorials’ – that is, the poet’s endeavours are precariously, though heroically, makeshift, overlaid; but nature is also that which threatens or devours, ‘digesting light’.

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Cordite Poetry Review

Introduction to Alan Loney’s Crankhandle


Cover design by Zoë Sadokierski

Since moving from New Zealand to Australia back in 2001, Alan Loney has carried on a prolific, internationally recognised career in Melbourne. Crankhandle, Loney’s latest published work, follows on from 2014’s chapbook collaboration with Max Gimblett, eMailing flowers to Mondrian, and the books from Five Islands Press, Nowhere To Go (2007) and Fragmenta Nova (2005). Borrowing his contemporary Laurie Duggan’s term, Loney can be read as a ‘late objectivist’: worrying at that particular American formal legacy, with its attendant philosophical and ethical concerns.

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