Amy Brown

CREATURELY: In Praise of New Poetry from Aotearoa

We are living in uncanny, uncertain, and uneven times. It is difficult not to feel undone by it all.

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Motherhood, Language and the Everyday During the Poetry of Astrid Lorange, Amy Brown and L K Holt

For a long time after my daughter was born, I looked for representations of motherhood everywhere. I looked for it in casual interactions with other mothers in the park and on the street, I looked for it with friends, in mothers’ groups and on the screen.

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Excerpts from Neon Daze

In Plato’s Phaedo, Socrates likens pleasure and pain to nails binding the soul to the body, resulting in a heavy, stained, monstrous identity, ultimately incapable of achieving the spiritual transcendence due to a true philosopher.

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Review Short: Therese Lloyd’s The Facts and Helen Heath’s Are Friends Electric?

These lines have come from feeding the collection into an online text randomiser. What sounds and looks like decisions made by a person is the work of a consciousless algorithm capable of capturing a question that charges the whole book: What does it mean to be ‘you’?

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Review Short: Π.O.’s Fitzroy: the biography

For Π.O., ‘Fitzroy is what you, bump into/ when you leave home’ (599). It was outside his family’s first front door after they escaped the Bonegilla migrant reception centre in 1954. After sixty years and homes in other suburbs, it is still the place that his poems gravitate towards. If anyone were to attempt writing the biography of Melbourne’s first suburb, Π.O. is the poet.

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He grins blindly, attempting innocuous blank and “casual” – a good guy enjoying a bit of banter. No fuss. I imagine his hand, finger bulging against wedding band, reaching for whatever he wants to feel in his palm. Power is …

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Review Short: Anna Jackson’s I, Clodia, and Other Portraits

Early in this collection, Clodia demands to be ‘loved by one of the new poets’ (4). Instead of beginning with the poet’s invocation of a muse, the muse of I, Clodia seems to summon the poet. Over 34 pages, Jackson imagines Clodia Metelli, the witty, promiscuous Roman aristocrat generally believed to have been the subject, ‘Lesbia’, of Catullus’s love poems – his interlocutor – her voice dovetailing easily with his. This biographical sequence is followed by another, observing an unnamed photographer during ‘the worst disaster of her career –/ this photographing of faces, this creation/ of ‘portraits’’ (41). The poet’s potential as portraitist and biographer preoccupies I, Clodia.

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Review Short: Amy Brown’s The Odour of Sanctity

The Odour of Sanctity is New Zealand poet Amy Brown’s second collection, and a substantial one too, weighing in at 240 pages. It is a speculative work which postulates the potential canonisation of six historical figures, three granted sainthood (St Augustine of Hippo, St Rumwold of Buckingham, St Elizabeth of Hungary) and three non-saints in Margery Kempe, Christina Rossetti, and contemporary American indie rocker Jeff Mangum. The Odour of Sanctity takes these six subjects through six sections of the sainthood process, finishing with a seventh sestinesque envoi section in which the subjects converse in three pairs.

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Review Short: Alan Loney and Max Gimblett’s eMailing Flowers to Mondrian

There are challenging layers to Alan Loney and Max Gimblett’s twenty-page poem, eMailing flowers to Mondrian. The first may appear self-indulgent, the second impenetrable, and the third overly personal; but, taken as a whole and meditated upon, this aesthetically pleasing saddle-stapled book turns out to be a cunning memoir.

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Trans-Tasman: Book Reviews and Best New Zealand Poetry 2013

It’s 2014. Time to expand / add to the Trans-Tasman conversation on poetics between Australia and New Zealand. The Best New Zealand Poems 2013 has now been published. Online only. Check it out. Congratulation to Murray Edmond, Anne Kennedy and …

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Review Short: Selina Tusitala Marsh’s Dark Sparring

The first epigraph to Selina Tusitala Marsh’s new collection is from Muhammad Ali; ‘The fight,’ he says, ‘is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines … long before I dance under these lights’. Behind Tusitala Marsh’s lines of poetry, there is an immense reserve of strength and grace, enough to sustain the poet through her mother’s death from cancer and to channel her fear and anger into rhythms of the Muay Thai kickboxing ring and the page.

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Review Short: Lucy Todd’s Listening to the Mopokes Go

‘Mopoke’ is the onomatopoeic nickname of the Southern Boobook or Tasmanian Spotted Owl, known in New Zealand (where I come from) as a ‘morepork’. This bit of idiom in the title of Lucy Todd’s debut chapbook prepares the reader for a collection attuned to its locality.

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Review Short: Lachlan Brown’s Limited Cities

A meditation on city limits – the literal and figurative limits of cities – and the edges of ‘urban’ definition, Lachlan Brown’s first collection, Limited Cities, conveys the extreme contrasts and contradictions of suburban environments via train-window views. Macquarie Fields, Parisian banlieues and Barcelona street scenes: each keen observation of the space through which he moves contributes to a nuanced description of the poet’s perspective, and in turn the reader’s too. What at first appears to be a collection concerned with the external – landscapes and cityscapes – is, in fact, more personal.

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Π O’s 24 Hours: Ulysses in Fitzroy

This is Π O’s bio note at the end of 24 Hours (1996), a 740-page, self-published epic poem set in Fitzroy, Melbourne. The P and O of his pseudonym are his actual initials and since the 1970s, Π O has been this poet’s stage-name as much as pen-name. In 1977, as Billy Marshall-Stoneking mentions in ‘Π O;An Appreciation’, Π O performed his poetry more than 250 times with Marshall-Stoneking and Eric Beach in and around Melbourne.

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