As her mother Kate lay dying, Lucy O’Connell had learnt of a rape committed in Carlton by a young Italian boy. Not the best introduction to the parent she had never known and, yes, it was a long time ago, but Lucy believes it is never too late for justice. Wary of the amorous Stefano’s assistance, she battles her way through Italian bureaucracy and finally traces her father, Paolo Esposito, to his restaurant by a beach in southern Italy. There she meets his wife Silvana and her own half-siblings: cheeky Andrea, studious Chiara, scatty Rosaria. She lives an uneasy lie with this new family. She obsesses over how to punish her father without hurting the others. Violent forces gather. Still she ignores the friends, who insist that penitence can be more real than a mumbled rosary might suggest. That la vendetta is not the work of gods but of devils.
Todd Turner writes a poetry of unfashionable warmth. Woodsmoke, which is an occasional motif throughout the book, refers to the ancient resins which fire draws upon in burning. The smoke is the signal, the equivalent of the poem. His unforced measured language yields deeply moving poems—whether on the death of a brother or the loss of market gardens. This is what a modern popular poet should read like. It is simple but takes a daring amount of craft to get there.
Todd Turner has produced a body of poems remarkable for the rich brocade of their language, their hard won lines, their hammered beauty. This is a poet who brings his work close to worship, who looks at the world and returns it clarified and finessed through his painstaking and elegant craftsmanship. Patience and a belief in the transformative power of poetry are at the heart of this most impressive debut volume.
In Todd Turner’s Woodsmoke memory is a potent force at work. His ability to delight and disturb, often within the one line, gives these poems a vibrant, edgy quality that leaves us with a sense of heightened expectancy and urgency.
Turner’s language is at times rich with the savour of earth, stone, wood, at times as weightless as light falling over a field, which ‘passes for benediction’.
| PATHS OF FLIGHT
An assured new poet sprung fully formed in his first collection.
Luke Fischer’s poems startle me to wake again, to wake not only to the thriving details of the worlds surrounding us but to the power of language to reveal the music simmering and alive in every moment.
His lines fall as calmly and elegantly as snow, layer upon layer, and are just as transformative in their beauty.
A gaze that renders things present to us in new ways.
| THE HANGING OF JEAN LEE
Prize-winning poet Jordie Albiston’s third book is dramatic. It spotlights the crunch times in the life of Jean Lee 1919-1951 from adventurous girl to hanged woman. It captures the times, the completion of the Harbour Bridge, the youth culture of the milk bars, the 'overpaid, oversexed, over here’ American servicemen during the War, the invasion of petty crims for the 1949 Melbourne Cup won by Faxzami. Above all, it understands. Jean's last God-troubled speeches raise her mean life to suburban tragedy.
In this richly magical procession of poems, Albiston re-imagines how the grim life of Jean Lee stepped along its course to her execution. The book is a triumph of grasp and sympathy.
The God poems are terrific - they have unafraidness and tension that is sheer coiled energy. The Hanging of Jean Lee is strong, it’s passionate, it’s truthful and it’s complex. And it’s tremendously disciplined poetry.
SHORTLISTED FOR THE QUEENSLAND LITERARY AWARDS 2013
What the judges said:
The cornerstone of this collection is a brilliant verse novel exploring both a love affair and the uncanny events that impinge on it. It is a fine example of a narrative written under the pressure of complex and conflicted experiences rather than to order and the difference shows in the vitality of the writing.
Martin Duwell & Philip Neilsen
| HIDDEN - A
At first glance, Mirranda Burton's art room is a hidden world full of strange eccentric characters and mysterious minds. But stay a while and in that room you'll find all the joy and sadness of life, the pain and comfort of community, and the ultimate meaning of art. In Hidden Mirranda Burton is writing about what matters most, and she does so with such gentle humanity and wisdom. It is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read.
Dylan Horrocks, author of Hicksville
In a simple yet effective visual style reminiscent of Persepolis but wholly its own - and peppered with some pictures so vivid as to be photographic - local artist Mirranda Burton draws on her time spent as an art teacher for those with intellectual disabilities. Her tales are hopeful, dramatic, always emotionally involving, and never condescending.
Fiona Hardy, Readings Carlton
and Selected Poetry
Colombine unusually contains two sets of ravish new poems, the title sequence and another called Fugue. The poems selected from her previous collections, from the Anne Elder Award-winning Michelangelo's Prisoners to her fourth book, Folly & Grief, illustrate the depth of her talent.
Jennifer Harrison is astonishing. She comes from a place that was previously unknown
A brave, sensuous and wildly original novel — I’ve never read anything quite like it.
Owen Richardson, The Age
A brief summary can’t really do justice to the complexities of this highly gifted novel... All this is given a lustre and intensity by her precise, musical prose, with its matchless evocations of the weather and the landscapes around Wellington and the fugitive subtleties of her characters’ inner lives.
Replacing the battles of heroes and gods with the struggle of mortal humans with time and space, Homer Rieth in Wimmera re-invents the epic. All the classical elements are there but they are now democratic, and ours. The narrator’s anonymous informant knows a thing or two. Objective and personal, learned and demotic, local and vast, Wimmera is the history of a region and seedbed of a vision where ‘the bunyip indeed lays down with the manticore.’ There is nothing like it anywhere.
Grand in conception and impressively detailed in execution, this is a significant achievement indeed, and a major contribution to Australian literature. That Homer Rieth is one of the finest lyric poets writing in Australia was apparent with the publication in 2001 of "The Dining Car Scene".
Brian Edwards, Australian Book Review
It’s an impressive achievement, and a remarkable piece of work.
AN IMAGINARY MOTHER
Bron was Phyllis Nicholls’ first child. An Imaginary Mother is an open-hearted memoir of her mother and their intense relationship over fifty-six years.
Phyllis was a secretive, complex and unpredictable woman. Before her marriage, Phyllis worked happily as a designer in Vida Turner’s pioneering textile company. After World War II, with a young family, she had to cope with the isolation of a struggling subsistence farm, the tumult of her husband’s conversion to a rigid religion, and her own increasing mood changes between despair, melancholy and joy.
Yet to the end of almost eighty years, Phyll was also a stoic. She saw her ‘madnesses’ as the inevitable ups and downs of a full life, to be worked around with a mixture of courage, stealth, ingenuity and, whenever possible, with humour. An Imaginary Mother is a portrait in which the sitter and the painter are both revealed.
This poignant gem of a memoir
This heartrending memoir by Bron Nicholls of her ‘strange mother’ is hard to put down
Rochford Street Review
Motet: a composition adapted to sacred words in the elaborate polyphonic church style; an emblem. Addressed to and inspired by the time-honoured figure of a mistress or muse, Homer Rieth’s sonnets cascade into each other across rocks of autobiography, memory and desire. From the young man’s yearning for the religious life to the poet’s mature ruminations he sings to his American Lola and to us. His unaccompanied voice becomes its own choir.
Rieth’s poems often read like overheard private rhapsodies, in which the arcane and everyday mingle. He employs an ebullient, rococco language in long, breathless sentences.
Geoffrey Lehmann & Robert Gray
Australian Poetry Since 1788
A convincing sense of a lifelong spiritual quest
Australian Book Review
Energy, natural and man-made, is at the heart of Andrew Sant’s The Bicycle Thief & Other Poems - energy released at the speed of an escaping cyclist or through the planet’s eruptions and metamorphoses in geologic time. Either way, here is the second law of thermodynamics writ large, creation and destruction in a binary tussle. The mischievous title poem, a fast-moving narrative, is a robust celebration of ‘good-for-the-planet transport’, while elsewhere motor vehicles depicted in a ‘personal history’ are drolly seen as harbingers of an apocalypse. Many poems are monologues that give voice to characters whose identities are fluid and circumstantial. These are poems that get about - lively, unfettered and expansive.
Classy vehicle for entertaining verse
Sydney Morning Herald
It’s out on its own. Simply the thing it is will make it live
Critical Survey (UK)
He writes as though for a circle of listeners sinking into their whisky around a fire that has settled into glowing coals, with a chuckle at times, and a solemn nod at others
The Weekend Australian
....a refined and most enjoyable collection