Time and again, the poetry confounds expectations and unpicks itself, structurally, grammatically, and linguistically, presenting what looks like a story, a letter, a footnote, a telegram, a Wikipedia entry, a diary entry, or even a simple poem about a single thing, only to undo the stereotype, the perception, or the form, through a reworking of its conventions.
The voice of the playwright is obvious in Christine Evan’s verse novel Cloudless. A rich blend of characterisation, setting, and powerful thematic weaving from poem to poem, the novel takes us deep into the heart of working class Perth in the 1980s. Each of the eight key voices who make up the story are on the cusp of something: their lives about to change.
From Louisiana to Honduras, Susan Swartwout covers much ground in her poetry collection, Odd Beauty, Strange Fruit. The collection is billed as a gothic take on Southern culture, and in some aspects it is, but there is more here than meets the eyes or first reading. The collection also tells a family’s history and the impact of this on the life of the individual who tells it.
Beyond the mistakes and the failings of humans which are highlighted in these poems, there is something that redeems us. We can, and must, love, and transcend. IV is a collection poetry about the ephemeral nature of life, of pain, about how we learn, grow, become mindful/present/enlightened, and above all, about love. No matter how much we’ve severed, sutured, eluded and deconstructed, love is always transformative.
Jesih is from Slovenia. Natural aspects of this country, along with the author’s own thrust toward existential questions, serve to inform the poems in the book. He takes notes while walking, while reflecting, and brings the reader along for the journey. One gets the sense from his poetry that Jesih is a peripatetic wordsmith.
Though the lessons that Langford presents through this work are harsh, the writing never falters. It is always lyrical, exquisite, and ultimately affirmative. Though there is nothing didactic about Ground, these are poems that teach us know to go on in the face of what we’ve done, through words, dance, sorrow, attention and ultimately love.
This work is Ecopoetry at its most astute—where nature is primary, and human perception becomes transfigured by the encounter. All or nearly all of the poetry is set in The Hunter Valley, NSW (Australia), and many poems revisit these places from different perspectives, different stories, and different times of day, life, emotional contexts.
The poetry is universally evocative, delicately wrought, and linguistically powerful even taken out of context, or published individually, as many of the pieces have been. However, knowing the personal and political backdrop on which the work is developed not only adds depth, it becomes another story – the story within the story – that informs and enlivens the work further.
Brady paints a wide spectrum that not only includes the world of ancient Greece and Ethiopia but also the terrain of Queens, New York, where he grew up. Brady’s book makes known the impact of the Homeric texts on the young life of the protagonist.
Despite its seeming simplicity, the poetry in The Guardians is condensed tightly, and though the work remains rooted in the domestic, there is a universe pulsing in each observation. Time is stretched between present and an infinite regression of past, and all that we inherit, all that is wild lurking below the surface of our lives. This is poetry that can be read again and again, each time yielding something new and powerful in its minute and expansive observations.