Patricia Sykes


Strange temples vie their architects. Outside in the territory of birds a carpenter is constructing a roof as if today, tomorrow, legs might escape into wings. We nest, we break open, we give birth to what we feed. In the …

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“collaboration does not yield” “as deviant as it is circuitous” ”you wander off” “curve your thinking to each other’s” “ideas without getting” “manipulate them like phenomena” “secretively…she conjures” “the private oasis where” “needing to adjust” “quotients of form” “the enfleshed” …

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Stepping from white into black from day into night. Called out by who knows what. The night jasmine perhaps, the fireflies, the rising coolness of the water tank. All day a folding of facts, thoughts, wants, packing a new history …

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Review Short: Patricia Sykes’s The Abbotsford Mysteries

Patricia Sykes’ fourth collection of poems, The Abbotsford Mysteries, is a lyrical working-through of the experience of girls and women at the Abbotsford Convent in Victoria. While the site (located on the Yarra north of Melbourne) is now an arts and cultural hub, it served as a Catholic girls’ home from the 1860s until the 1970s, run by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd. The convent was built at the beginning of the twentieth century, and operated as a boarding house and school for ‘wayward’ girls and women, orphans, migrants and girls from rural areas. Given this context, it’s hard to read and react to The Abbotsford Mysteries without relating it to recent revelations in the media regarding the prevalence of child sexual abuse in Australian Catholic institutions, and the eventuating Royal Commission into sexual abuse.

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Andy Jackson Interviews Patricia Sykes

Patricia Sykes has published two collections of poetry, partly with the fuel of New Work grants from the Australia Council and Arts Victoria. Her first, Wire Dancing (Spinifex Press, 1999), was commended in the Anne Elder and the Mary Gilmore awards for 2000.

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Andy Jackson Reviews Patricia Sykes

In spite of poetry's continued insistence on its own marginality, its retreat into abstract stylistic expression or into words that act as anaesthetic or lullaby, there is still the possibility that words can undermine the way things are.

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