Bev Braune

Review Short: Jordie Albiston’s XIII Poems

XIII PoemsXIII Poems might be seen as a snapshot of what Albiston’s main concerns have been since Botany Bay Document (1996) appeared culminating with, I think, Vertigo (2007). Her publications since the mid-2000s reflect on similar concerns but with more biographical tones. Albiston’s main interests have been history, limitations or framed lives, their voices and interpretations of them, often using easily located words to tie groups of poems (‘heart,’ ‘black,’ and ‘white’ feature in XIII Poems).

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Essentially Human

In the Southern Highlands I think I’ve made a friend on the ground. She tells me the baby inside her has not moved. Her husband doesn’t know how not to smile anymore. The baby is dead but she does not …

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Bev Braune Reviews Kate Lilley

LadylikeKate Lilley’s second collection, Ladylike, is a tightly constructed and complex work on love and language. Reminding me of Welsh poet Gwyneth Lewis’ wry, poignant words concerned with Welsh language, use of English and meaning-frauds, Kate Lilley enlivens her readers to assumptions, contradictions and the various erections of judging behaviour that surround the definition of a woman today or in any recent age.

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The Geography Lesson

from Skulváði Úlfr: Legends Skulváði challenges Fossiker in ‘the simple game’1 to win a compass sought after by Sultans They faced the cups. They sowed. They winnowed. Four cards moved. They tilled. Amulets danced. Hunter drew. The Wolf dodged. Less …

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Supra-text Sequences

Image: A series of frames require me to shade some of the evenly-distributed sets-of-3, black or blank. How I apply notions of form (actual space) and appearance (virtual space) to my experience in the world is very much like my …

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Bev Braune Reviews Jill Jones

Dark Bright Doors by Jill Jones Wakefield Press, 2010 An intriguing haphazardness is the first thing that strikes you about the language of Jill Jones’s new book. Dark Bright Doors is at once familiar and strange. The tone is highly …

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So the story goes: Glámis, the bride

So the story goes: Glámis, the bride was a sad one when he was found by the tide veiled seaspray, dead urchins daughter of ambition, queen of blood sickened by the dark fate of her deepest love Sickened with herself. …

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from Skulváði Úlfr: The Legend of the Son of Nadlan the Rus’

So the story goes: Glámis, the bride

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Bev Braune Reviews David Malouf

width=150 class=”alignleft” vspace=5 hspace=5 />Revolving Days: Selected Poems by David Malouf

University of Queensland Press, 2008

In the very appropriately titled Revolving Days, David Malouf has put together a selection of poems that addresses the past, place and its importance to self-definition, the memory of houses emptied of family and objects yet full of what's left behind and filling up the present. The poems exhibit a quality which, with political comments more subtle than Les Murray's and longings less romanticised than Robert Adamson's, declares that the places where the emotions taken from another world rendezvous are always present and clear in comprehending the discrepancy between place-and-mind and feeling-and-emotion.

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Concentrate on the Utensils’ Constructions

It is not uncommon to accept dinner invitations here. An evening with a Chinese ambassador, a Chef and a Snake Charmer is unexpected. The dates are closely timed. Each man wants me for himself. A tour bus arrives to cheer …

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Bev Braune Reviews Angela Gardner

Parts of Speech by Angela Gardner

University of Queensland Press, 2007

Angela Gardner's Parts of Speech shows what a substantial first book of poetry is all about. Gardner has responded, above all, to an ideal opportunity to show what excites her thoughts and propels her into action as a poet. Her ability to turn that initial energy into a form of words both excites and challenges the reader. In this regard, Gardner seems urged to speak about what small actions may be worth pursuing to maintain or re-create a natural and preferred order of events.

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Bev Braune reviews Peter Minter and Nathan Shepherdson

blue grass by Peter Minter

Salt Publishing, 2006

Sweeping the Light Back into the Mirror by Nathan Shepherdson

University of Queensland Press, 2006

Peter Minter's latest book blue grass and Nathan Shepherdson's début collection Sweeping the Light Back into the Mirror work with extraordinary images to convey the demands made on memory for accuracy in its language. Both poets set out, deliberately, to interrogate such a language and its subsets – naming, recognition, and the calculation and politics of categories. For while as writers and readers, we have limitations on the material claims we can make to increase emotional satisfaction in our lives, we have an unlimited capacity to request answers from what appears to be immaterial – the memory of words spoken by both loved ones in absentia and barely remembered friends. We not only demand these words, but also try to challenge their immateriality with concrete language.

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Bev Braune reviews Peter Boyle

Museum of space by Peter Boyle

University of Queensland Press, 2004

Peter Boyle strikes me as a poet who likes the air, much as Peter Minter likes water; Robert Adamson, leaves; Jordie Albiston, defined/confined spaces; John Tranter, lines or, rather, the lineage of the cursive. Boyle most reminds me of Robert Adamson with his gentle, probing style, his yearning approach to all that should be desirable–an understanding of ourselves in space and time, wherein we point all our limitations. In this context, Boyle holds his place very well as a watchful observer of the world (e.g. the wind, sunlight, birds, music, reflections, waves) and other writers (e.g. Rilke, Saint-John Perse, Jabès).

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Bev Braune reviews Luke Davies

Totem by Luke Davies

Allen and Unwin, 2004

The efficacy and strength of Luke Davies' Totem lie in its drawing on a long familiar tradition of mythological narratives as a vehicle for romantic verse-tellers – from Publius Ovidius Naso (known to us as Ovid), to Giovanni Boccaccio, to John Milton. Davies' tastes are eclectic; he even tries a poem in Jamaican English, such as it is generally recognised in reggae songs, in one in the series entitled '40 Love Poems' following his 'Totem Poem'.

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Bev Braune reviews Pam Brown

Textytext thing, by Pam Brown

Little Esther Books 2002

My topic is local. The poems rarely leave whatever street I'm on. They are as mobile and as mutable as my daily life. (from Pam Brown's Statements on poetics) [1]

The art of looking for the text, the thing it's in and re-thinking it, is Pam Brown's forte. In reading this collection, I find myself thinking of Brown's development. She is a poet who reads, travels, observes and re-thinks her own backyard.

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Bev Braune reviews Melissa Ashley

the hospital for dolls (2003) by Melissa Ashley

Post Pressed.

Melissa Ashley brings us a collection of stories considering realities, mythology and personal experience. While a veneer of the strange wraps her images, the translucence of their reality is distinctly prominent. This is a book about definition, about who defines what and how. The poems in Ashley's first volume of poetry are seriously concerned with corporeal actualities and female self-definition. Readers are called on to understand that the happenings referred to are relevant and real. We are asked to see, feel, talk-about and (perhaps) understand. She takes a Lacanian approach–comprehending experience is a slippery rhetorical matter.

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