Sam Moginie

Sam Moginie Reviews Breaking New Sky: Contemporary Poetry from China

Breaking New Sky is a happily variegated collection of work by contemporary Chinese poets, edited and translated by Chinese-Australian poet, novelist and translator Ouyang Yu. Strangeness produced by means of a ‘neutral’ or ‘plain’ English (a ‘Yu signature tone’) gives the poems and their objects a riddle-like quality whose pleasures and dramas implicate food, sex, work, river systems, animals, domestic space, relationships, the medical system, nostalgia, death, farming and sleep. This plainness is put to work as the material of an aphoristic narrative mode that defines this anthology; making small claims continuously and thereby amassing charm.

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Review Short: Michael Brennan’s Autoethnographic

Michael Brennan’s Autoethnographic requires a curious reader, one to read its sketch-like poems carefully. The title, a reproduced image by Erico Tonotsuka and epigraphs by Edward Sapir and John Grey (‘We see the world through eyes of ancient mud’) suggest we should be reading the language of the poems reflexively, with an eye towards their ontological implications. But the poems don’t fit into this frame, and employ plain speech, dark comedy and lyrical melange un-reflexively.

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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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a plane flew overhead ten kinds of friends you never said that you said I just want to show how I love shouldn’t lie it’s nice try not to raise your voice military like I can talk everybody wants a …

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