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.
Rich and sweeping, Coined words are coins, Everything has a glint to it—even sound is lush—I want to crawl in the poems, A review of them (the poems, the book) could only be a poem itself.
The flight motif is also apparent and points to the necessity of progress (as in becoming a better self). This advice at first glance is self-evident, something that we all, or most of us, already know. But there is depth to Pobo’s poetry and that is why it is worth subsequent glances.
Many of the poems in the collection challenge the identity of the object in question. A loaf of bread becomes spies wearing raincoats, soap becomes dirty, and maps become the very cause of being lost. The dichotomous nature of the writing allows one to ponder about how the identity of something changes as it finishes its assigned purpose.
Carol Smallwood has the talent of making scientific concepts artistic. Her previously published poetry collection In Hubble’s Shadow also deals with science and the mysteries of the universe. Her writing includes a unique combination of traditional poems along with contemporary creations.
Signs speak, horror rises through the floorboards, Hedge-Triffids surround the houses, and children poke sticks at dead possums. There is everywhere a clash between life and death; decay and renewal. Though Goodbye, Cruel explores painful places in a way that cuts deeply, ultimately the work is affirmative, moving back and forth into the particular and outwards into the universal. Smith does an exceptional job of bridging the gap between the absurd, the tragic and the domestic, turning it all into something tender and sublime.
Nuernberger’s unique understanding of her world illustrated in her work is a blend of the realistic and the fantastical in each of her characters and poems. It is Nuernberger’s outside-the-box perspective that is so striking and profound for a reader in The End of Pink.
The story itself is a fascinating one with themes very relevant to modern readers: the impact of colonisation, racism, cruelty and social inequality, as well as love, hunger, and the desire for meaning and self-actualisation. Johnson is a natural storyteller, providing narrative context in between each of the poems. However the real heart of the collection is the poetry, which goes deeper than scholarship would otherwise allow. Johnson puts the reader right into the moment of experience, using language that is both harrowing and wry.
There is a stark, necessary brutality to these poems, and so many wonderful, poignant lines that one is tempted to quote continuously in an effort to impress upon readers the importance of this work. Therefore the best recommendation is to read it whole, in its entirety, to absorb its authentic reflections and stunning phrases and to reap the rewards of personal insight and possibly even enlightenment.
What’s interesting in all of Smallwood’s work is how she manages to put together myriad disparities to create a whole. Thematically, these poems are drawn together by the overarching concept of exploration of the universe, but the poems themselves are as diverse and disparate as poems from different authors.