Beatific Toast is a poetry collection that is as rich with silence and music as it is with semantical meaning. Though the book is only fifty nine pages long – chapbook size – there is a lot of ground covered, with poetry open enough to encourage and reward multiple re-readings. These are poems are charged by sound, by light, by colour and scent, inviting the reader to join in, to participate, not just by reading the work but by moving with it.
And savored these poems should be. Shepard is an exceptional and emphatic writer, with a sharp eye for the telling detail, for landscapes both real and emotional, and for hearing the music in words, as well as in the sounds of the natural world. It’s not just the way his poems and his birds sing, but his poems can startle the senses of the reader with their rich scents as well.
The poems take us to the brink of who we are in many aspects: animal, alien, destroyers, inhabitants, lovers, indivudals and collectives. These are poems that make no concessions to humanity’s frailties. We’re about to reap what we’ve sown and all of these exquisite conceits may be illusions against time’s inevitable collapse: “but all these vapours will be unmade” (“The Woodland Chapel”), and yet there is something audaciously beautiful, subversive and permanent in the moment of our experience, in the placement and play of language and in the almost languid sensuality of touch.
Though the poems in Green Point Bearings are grounded in the natural world and are rooted in place, particularly Lake Macquarie, the Hunter and Northern Sydney, there is also something a bit magical in these poems. There is a mystery in this natural world that is inexplicable, arising from the spaces in which the poems are contained, in the rock, the trees, the flowers and shrubs that are everywhere and still precious, always in motion and changing: “Everything here speaks of infinity”.
While familiarity with and reverence for Plath’s work enhances the poems of Fig Tree in Winter, this collection is strong enough to stand on its own. Each poem is accessible and beautiful. The words and ideas are clear. The themes are relatable, and the thoughts which get explored are deep. Graue’s collection truly compliments Plath’s legacy.
The observations are visceral, coming from within a strong sense of the body. Thinness and its relationship to illness is a continual theme, though very different to the analytical approach of Small Acts of Disappearance. In Domestic Interior the perceptions are simultaneously more delicate and more intense, drawing the reader directly into the deepest heart of pain. The body and its relationship to food informs nearly every perception.
Though the poems stand alone and many have been published in literary journals that way, it’s the dialogue itself where the most important meaning happens. Both poets take on similar subjects of dispossession, occupation, the landscape and ecology, exploitation and historical revisionism. Both poets ultimately situate the work as a search for an identity born out of pain, guilt and suffering, and both respond through the others work to create connection and reconciliation.
er poetry is universal in its ability to resonate with her audience. The writing is uncompromising and passionate. Her words are clothed in her experiences: rich and very human. Newberry writes with courage and a refreshing and welcoming honesty. I make no excuses for gushing over her work, it’s deserving of my every gush. You don’t read Martina Reisz Newberry, you experience her.
The work resists an easy correspondence. You can’t “translate” it to a simple message or meaning. Instead the poems move between landscapes that feel like they should be familiar, with the unsettling quality of dreams or memory – slightly distorted and nightmarish, but also enticing.
Anyone who thinks of poetry as a hermetic art form has not read Jennifer Maiden. A keen and articulate observer of current affairs and trends, Maiden’s work explores a political and sociological landscape through the lens of poetic vision. This analysis takes many forms, often in multi-genred pieces that transcend essay, fiction, biography and poetry. In spite of the mixed literary forms, there is a consistency in characters, themes, and in approaches across Maiden’s oeuvre that makes for an accumulative effect.