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.
Though the poetry is easy to read and instantly accessible, the work operates on several levels. There is the political: the woman dispossessed, unable to afford rising Melbourne property prices (and a later nod to the global financial crisis; there is the spiritual: the idea of letting go of attachments and expectations: “I am a whisper/of butterflies”; and there is the tangible: the poet’s attempts to make a coherent life and create meaning during this period of intransience.
It is tempting to say that Autoplay by Julie Babcock is a collection of poems about Ohio. It is and more. One way to put order to this book, a task that is almost if not totally impossible to do, is to separate the poems into categories. The Ohio poems would be one category. Another category would be poems dealing with childhood and adulthood.
Devadatta’s Poems is a delightful book of poetry full of the kind of mischievous fun that comes with exploring a fallen character: an anti-hero already relegated, historically, to obscurity. Beveridge’s Devadatta is as compelling as he is repellant and his voice is one that will amuse, enlighten, and enrich readers.
The narrative in this collection exists in that there is no narrative; we find ourselves instead in the pairing of clashing words that, like a musical score, creates not an arch, but rather the opening of a flower. Each prose poem is handled with delicate care, and yet, Lewis is able to formulate each in a sense of divine carelessness. She redesigns familiar clichés into new architecture, allowing a close proximity to the reader throughout each section.
But Goodfellow’s book is not chock-full of despair. There is a welcomed humor that shines through the poems, because of her ability to play with words. This is present even in a poem as serious as the above mentioned, where Goodfellow lists avoidable words, “blind date, love at first sight, second sight, stars in your eyes, only have eyes for you, blind love, blind devotion, sight for sore eyes, see-through blouse, easy on the eyes, roving eye, eye candy, bedroom eyes” (42).
At times, the poems are so full of parataxis, clever juxtaposition, ironic aside and syntactical juggling, that the poems, taken too quickly or in too large a dose can create a kind of vertigo. However, I couldn’t leave the book alone. It kept drawing me back, one poem at a time, and each time I returned I found something new; something powerful.