Chasing Marie Antoinette All Over Paris
 Adrienne Eberhard


Published Titles

Agamemnons Poppies
Jane, Lady Franklin
This Woman
Chasing Marie Antoinette All Over Paris

Canberra Times

ook Description

I caught
a glimpse of satin shoes
paler than pearl shell
softer than the skin
at a lover’s wrist
of a woman’s body
all the pinks
that glow
and suffuse
a palette of rouge
the hues
of dawn and sunset
of ardent and replete

Adrienne Eberhard’s new collection Chasing Marie Antoinette all Over Paris forges connections between past and present, public and private, and human and non-human, exploring what it means to be truly at home in the world, whether her beloved Tasmania, France or Indonesia. Ranging in subject matter from native grasses, ducklings and footy games, to cave paintings, family and 9000 years-deep ancestry, she draws on personal, as well as cultural, history to investigate possibility, love and loss. With their focus on the small and the precious, these poems draw our attention to what is often overlooked, enabling us to see the extraordinary in the ordinary.

She demonstrates how well she can move from sensual evocation of place to tenderness and love of the human. This is a book whose language, because of its precision and sensuality, does justice to a wide range of experiences. Eberhard’s poems seem expounded wholly from both body and spirit.
Judith Beveridge, Westerly

ISBN 9780648038757
110 pgs
$24.00 Australia

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Book Sample


Mt Field, Tasmania (after Jordie Albiston’s ‘Cartography’)

What is the space between this hut and that mountain
but impenetrable black, and frosty cold?
She is writing this at a table in the cabin,
spinning thoughts like threads, as if they can hold

her boys tighter, pull the mountain in, with their bold
tents blooming like flowers in the snow.
Can thoughts, or mad desire, shift the world
slightly, tilt ranges so their faces lower

to her own? Upthrust, tectonic forces, the whole slew
of geology sped up, so contour lines diminish
and lakes freeze, ice thickening to a deep blue
while those dark mountain peaks relinquish

distance; and this long night will finish.
Her writing is a thread to lure them back,
their faces filled with snow light, dolerite, the itch
of time alone, cold breath of height. Face facts:

the contours between here and there are shifting. Pack,
and ask, what is the space between home and out there,
between their beginnings and these beginnings, but a lack
of courage; what is distance but a prayer?


Three balls of dusky wool peep in outrage
for renegade parents, lost but not alone;
closely knit as a fair isle pattern,
regrouping at every ten uncertain steps,
linking, huddling, calling.

In the box you pile high, a mound
of freshly laundered socks or a downy bundle
of pick-up sticks, burying yourselves in each other,
necks entwined, links on a chain,
abandoning yourselves to dreams of your lost mother.

You lie together, a swell of winter muffs
or crocheted shawls, flaring newly formed
feathers like flamenco dancers,
ruffling, dislodging,
soft down falling like rain.

In morning sun you preen and poke,
baring a froth of petticoats, your wings
quilled with turquoise as you settle on stones,
extending your legs in a cat-like stretch,
tucking leather joints to doze, nod, trill.

Ever restless, you pad on prehensile feet,
foraging for green pick with greedy beaks
and I call you, peep, peep, peep,
then, duck, duck, duck,
and finally, boys, boys, boys,

your maturation a mirror of my other trio:
tender cossetting, wriggling bodies
seeking the warmest spot, explosive growth,
faces tilting at the sky, angled necks
and folded legs.

I’m ahead of myself watching you:
heady with hormones
and the lure of blue,
as you whir budding wings
on webbed tiptoe.

Your breasts are spotty as a dalmatian’s
but strong with the shape of an adult bird;
your lost mother recedes as you loll
in the sun, separate, discreet,
while I juggle this unwieldy knowledge.


There’s something comical about flounder:
the way their noses curl

and their eyes stare upwards, close together
like badly separated seedlings.

They are sand flowers, sea-bed huggers,
skins dappled with sun-flecks

and freckled with rain.
When you lift the baby flounder

from the sea floor,
your grin bigger than its girth,

the lost months disappear:
this day bound only by laughter.

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Canberra Times Heading

REVIEW by Geoff Page
March 6 2021 - 12:00AM

Adrienne Eberhard's latest collection of poetry is a reminder of the strong female tradition of Tasmanian poets

Chasing Marie Antoinette All Over Paris,

by Adrienne Eberhard.

Black Pepper, $24.

Adrienne Eberhard's fifth collection, Chasing Marie Antoinette All Over Paris, is a convenient reminder of what a strong tradition of female poetry Tasmania has had over the years.

It began with Gwen Harwood (1920-1995) and went on to include Margaret Scott (1934-2005), Kathryn Lomer, Louise Oxley, Jane Williams, Sarah Day, Esther Ottaway and Eberhard herself (among others).

Eberhard's new book is divided into four sections which reveal, in turn, various aspects of her personal interests and poetic resources. The second shows the poet's detailed knowledge of Tasmanian landscapes and flora and will have a special attraction for readers familiar with them.

The poems are closely attentive and highly metaphoric. The book's title, however, comes from a sequence in its third section. It's in three parts and shows a good deal more sympathy for the "Viennese" queen than was demonstrated by the crowd which witnessed her execution.

 Part I is based on a pair of the queen's satin shoes:

tiny shoes with pearl buttons
and a heel
that tapped
on the marble floor

           When I looked again
           there were lilies /
           spilling like footsteps
           each one
           a stab of paint
           a fall
           and you
           nowhere to be seen.

Part III is also remarkable for that relative rarity, a high-quality, explicitly-religious contemporary poem, In "Christmas Eve" the poet appears to be watching her husband, at a Parisian Christmas mass, accept:

  the wafer containing
  the compression of centuries,
  and in the lifting voices spilling
  with the organ's swelling magnitude,
  he is caught, pinned like a butterfly,
  his blue eyes catching mine
  as he swallows.

For this reader, the emotional core of the book is in the opening sequence of its final section which, from a series of photographs, evokes the life and marriage of her Dutch grandfather and his Dutch-Indies wife. They married in 1929 and lived in Java in the 1930s and 40s before emigrating to Australia after World War II.

The poems here, nine in all, are not without a gloss of imperial nostalgia but their portrait of an initially rhapsodic marriage and its progressive decline, capped by the husband's internment under the Japanese, is more than moving.
The last sentence of its second poem is indicative of Eberhard at her best:


  Her pliancy ironed
  out in him, into the sharp angles of shirt,
  collar, pocket, the only concession
  the buttonhole spray with its tiny
  white pods that could be
  embroidery on a lace veil.

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