Review: Susan Richardson’s ‘Words the Turtle Taught Me’

Plumwood Mountain Journal of Ecopoetry and Ecopoetics has published my review of Susan Richardson’s wonderful collection of marine creature themed poetry, Words the Turtle Taught Me. Read the review here.

Even better, read the book. You will learn so much about so many amazing, sadly endangered creatures – all the poems are about species on the IUCN’s “Red List”. The poems are also accompanied by beautiful illustrations by Pat Gregory. And the book contains a lengthy exegesis which explains how the poems were written, and which makes the book potentially a really useful resource for teachers who might want to try similar creative endeavours with students.

Susan Richardson. Words the Turtle Taught Me. Wales: Cinnamon Press, 2018.

Review: Dominique Hecq’s ‘Hush: A Fugue’

Hush: A Fugue is a beautiful, sad, quiet collection, everything it’s title suggests. Cordite have just published my review of this work by Dominique Hecq, and you’ll find it here.

For me, Hush really evokes the feel of Melbourne – its culture, its weather, the city itself. Yet it is also a kind of feminine odyssey into and through loss and mourning. One aspect of that journey that I found particularly interesting was the way that it nudges against the limits of our language. And by that I mean the ordinary Australian English we speak here, in this country. When I was very small I understood another language (Czech), and maybe that was what made me feel, from a very early age, as though things were missing from everyday life and language – because I lost that language as I grew up into an entirely Anglophone world. Later, when I became a French speaker, I rediscovered how there are things that can only be said, it seems, in one language, and not any other. These are the sorts of things Hecq also exposes– in Hush, there are occasions when she slips into her own mother tongue, French, to express things. And it is not just for the words or ideas that she uses it, but also for the cadence or colour of the language, aspects which are like a whole other language in their own right.

I would direct you to a link, but it seems you’ll find Hush easily enough if you look. Here are the essential details:

Dominique Hecq, Hush: A Fugue, UWA Publishing, 2017.

Review: Kirsten Lang’s ‘SkinNotes’

Plumwood MountainJournal of Ecopoetry and Ecopoetics has published my review of Kristen Lang’s SkinNotes. You can read it here.

Kirsten is a Tasmanian poet and has performed her poems around the state very stylishly indeed. Her poems are just as polished as her delivery though. They are thoughtful and profound, and Lang uses poetic language to its full capacity. Her writing speaks of the ambiguous, excessive experiences of humans who are open to a kind of conversation with what Jane Bennett calls ‘vibrant matter’ – all of the natural and nonhuman world that we are enmeshed within, which we are part of, and which is part of us. For this reason, when Lang writes of ‘family’, her family includes animals, and when she writes of the body, its edges merge with the world around it – a lake, or mountainside.

Lang’s writing is challenging, uplifting and affirming. Get yourself a copy and read it.

Kristen Lang. SkinNotes. North Hobart: Walleah Press,2017.

Review: Tanya Thaweeskulchai’s ‘A Salivating, Monstrous Plant’

Ok, so I admit it, I really did only review Tanya Thaweeskulchai’s A Salivating Monstrous Plant because of its title, but how could anyone resist that? I have a bit of a ‘thing’ for triffid-like plants. I have a nice little pot of pitcher plants right beside me as I write this. And then there was my 2012 review of Ross McKenzie’s incredible encyclopaedia, Australia’s poisonous plants, fungi and cyanobacteria, a must read for anyone interested in these things.

Thaweeskulchai’s work was something else though. It’s an extended poem that really does read as a narrative. It’s strange and curious, and extraordinary. Plumwood Mountain Journal of Ecopoetry and Ecopoetics have just published my review , you can read it here.

If you too love triffids, adventure, weird slightly manga-tinted stories, read the book too.

Tanya Thaweeskulchai. A Salivating Monstrous Plant. Carlton South: Cordite Publishing, 2017.