- 94: EARTHSUBMIT to M Takolander 93: PEACHCOMING SOONwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRO AUSTRALIANwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones
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.
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’?
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.
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 …
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.
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.
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.
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 …
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.
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.
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.