Heather Taylor Johnson

Spoonbridge and Cherry at the Opening of a Toilet

It was JB’s birthday, everyone was there but her ex, who I most wanted to see, half-empty crystal glasses littering the table where confident guests circled holding the half-full, the slosh of constant conversation, gesticulations, moles, gold, you said to …

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My Raucous, Singing Ear

On the Train I’m sitting on a blue seat, two red ones in front of me and a sign above them illustrating what priority seating looks like. Outside the window of the metro train, the day speeds past the planted …

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Botanic Park

My son asks what colour is the sky and I say blue – just look at it, what a beautiful blue – and we stop and stare into the sky, see different things like the future (him) and the past …

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Alex Kostas Reviews Peter Goldsworthy, Jill Jones and Heather Taylor Johnson

Garron Publishing was started in 2010 by Gary MacRae and Sharon Kernott as a means of self-publishing work, but has since expanded into a successful run of poetry chapbooks by established and emerging South Australian poets.

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The Cake is Done. I’m Finished.

What do I have that you need? What do you have that I need? Even though we are running in circles the walls are hard, my face is bruised, vessels bleed. Numbers are hard and they don’t bend, like memory. …

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I. A book with a title that says it all After the pear fell into the milk, cacophony at the kitchen table me swearing a hole in my mouth as I lay down my book because like it or not …

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Somebody died three houses down it was the girl – and this is what I want to say – she was sixteen and could not breathe air failed to travel its path and floated just beyond her reach. She could …

Posted in 60: SILENCE | Tagged


Caddy in Adelaide, from The Sound and the Fury You offer me crab apples, lightning bugs, a red pick-up with a confederate flag passing black men walking for miles, the gentle roll of the flat road leading to some other …

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Heather Taylor Johnson Reviews Young Poets: An Australian Anthology

I’ve respected John Leonard Press since its beginnings in 2006, and over the years a theme has formed across its publications. Leonard’s poets have a lot in common. There is nothing slapdash about any of them. These are poets clearly enticed by language and by the theories of life. Don’t expect rhyming. Don’t expect clichés. And do not, above all, expect anything simple.”

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Heather Taylor-Johnson Reviews Michelle Cahill

Michelle Cahill’s second collection is marvellously named Vishvarūpa, Sanskrit for “manifold, having all forms and colours”. The cover is classic black and silver, with a close-up photograph of a Hindu deity’s sculpture. If the package says anything, it’s intelligent. And the package does not lie. Cahill may laze in the splendour of nature or love, as is the way with so many poets, but she does so with extensive layering.

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Heather Taylor-Johnson Reviews Libby Hart

This Floating World is Libby Hart’s long-awaited follow-up to her 2006 Anne Elder Award-winning Fresh News from the Arctic. Like Arctic, the collection is heavily dependent on both the natural world and the nature of humans in relation to that world. I am making an educated guess that the book is a product of Hart’s residency at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in County Monaghan, Ireland, as the structure of the second and major part is a songline of the area.

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Heather Taylor-Johnson Reviews Teri Louise Kelly

Apparently for some it’s abhorrent to assume that a writer writes about herself, but I’ve always loved that bit: the drama of a writer talking about her own life, or about the lives she leads. So I really appreciate Teri Louise Kelly’s Girls Like Me, because she makes no secret about it.

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Heather Taylor-Johnson Reviews Southerly

The poets in this special poetry issue of Southerly stand for what is now, what is exciting/experimental and what is quality. But did Kate Lilley hand pick most of these poets, ensuring the issue would be tight, stylistically, and adhere to a chosen dogma? She does say in her intro that ‘Of the many poems that turned up in my inbox, already pre-selected by their authors, these are the ones that struck me most’.

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Heather Taylor-Johnson Reviews John Foulcher

I read the first three quarters of John Foulcher's What on Earth Possessed You: Poems 1983-2008 in one sitting, without picking up my pen. So enraptured was I with these twenty-five years worth of collected poems and a handful of new ones that I ignored my call to duty as reviewer in those first fifty-one pages, avoiding even mental notes, because I didn't want to break the seamless stream of one poem to the next.

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Heather Taylor-Johnson Reviews Ouyang Yu

While we awaited the arrival of Ouyang Yu's The Kingsbury Tales, a small treat came in the form of Reality Dreams. It is not at all surprising that Yu has put out two books of poetry in one year; in fact he has put out three, one written in Chinese. And that does not even touch upon his fiction and non-fiction. The man must be one of the most prolific writers in Australia.

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Heather Taylor-Johnson Reviews Mike Ladd

I find it a rare and lovely treat when a poet can become androgynous, or cross over discretely from a masculine voice to one that is feminine. While some of my favourite poets are steeped entirely in one gender or the other and that, indeed, can be their strength, I do want to draw attention to Mike Ladd.

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Heather Taylor-Johnson Reviews Jordie Albiston

One might think a collection devoted entirely to a break-up could become tedious or lamentably repetitive, but Jordie Albiston ensures that each poem in Vertigo: a cantata has a unique vibrancy and separate tone. This is a book one can read again and again, since so much of it resonates with a universal experience of love and loss. But a personal identification with the book's themes would not be the only thing compelling this reviewer's return to this something-like-a-verse-novel collection; I also find its lyricism stirring.

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Heather Taylor-Johnson Reviews The Best Australian Poetry 2007

Anthologies which wrap up the year's 'best' are always greatly anticipated. We want to be reacquainted with our favourite poets, see what sort of spin they've taken on our world during the past twelve months. But of greater interest is often the introduction to new writers. We're curious if the poets who have recently found their way into small press publications have made the cut.

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Heather Taylor-Johnson Reviews Luis Gonzalez Serrano and Ali Alizadeh

If Australian poetry is meant to reflect the lives and times of the people who inhabit this red and green land and its blue surf turf, then it is essential that the diminutive canon embrace the émigrés. They are the voices of a multi-culturally inclusive (or exclusive, as sometimes the case may be) society and what is truly unique is that they have a certain amount of inherent distance from the Australian culture which enables them to go where others have not the means to consider.

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Heather Taylor-Johnson Reviews The Best Australian Poems 2006

I've long been a fan of Dorothy Porter, the poet, and I can now say loudly and proudly that I am a fan of Dorothy Porter, the editor. Skimming through the index, I am immediately impressed by the range of texts drawn upon to assemble the collection. The poems were not all plucked from the 'best of the best', and this, I am confident, attributes to the range in voice.

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Heather Taylor-Johnson Reviews Ken Bolton

The best way to read Ken Bolton's poetry is to sit down and read Ken Bolton's poetry. Trying to decipher or even appreciate his style can be frustrating if the reader is only given the odd poem in a random literary magazine; and such a reading could result in Bolton appearing indulgent in his verse, perhaps working too hard (or not hard enough) at being clever.

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