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.

Anne Morgan’s Website Makeover

Anne Morgan is an amazing poet! She’s also a super active member of Tasmania’s writing community, coordinating the Facebook page ‘Celebrate Tasmanian Books and Writing’, and you can often catch her reading her work about the state. If you get the chance to hear her, go!

Anne also knows just the way to catch the attention of children and has written several works for littlies, which are subtle, sensitive, ethical and amusing. Her poetic touch can be felt in titles like ‘The Moonlight Bird and the Grolken’, ‘The Sky Dreamer’, which has been translated into French and German, and the wonderful ‘Captain Clawbeak’ series. And then there is ‘The Smallest Carbon Footprint in the Land and Other Ecotales’ – joint winner (with Gay McKinnon) of the national Environmental Children’s Book of the Year 2014 (Junior Fiction), and so it should be, because girls get to have amazing adventures as well as boys in this great book.

To help you find out more about Anne’s writing, access some great teaching resources, and discover some of Anne’s poetry, Bright South has given Anne’s website a makeover. The lovely new site features header photography (by Bright South), which celebrates Anne’s heartland-home on Bruny Island, Tasmania. Go and take a look at the new look site: www.annemorgan.com.au

Bright South publishes Pete Hay’s ‘Girl Reading Lorca’

Bright South is proud to be the publisher of Pete Hay’s
poetry chapbook, Girl Reading Lorca. From a poet normally regarded as “fiercely Tasmanian”, this collection is a startling departure from Pete, but no less observant, subtle or incisive than his better known work.

The centrepiece of Girl Reading Lorca is a celebration of the life and poetry of Federico García Lorca. With a voice as sure as that with which he evokes the landscapes of Tasmania, Pete sensitively evokes the haunted fields, mountains, and cities of Andalusia in several extraordinary poems.

Girl Reading Lorca also contains an extended cycle of poems, collectively titled ‘Madrid, June 19, 2011’, which is the centrepiece of Indignados!, an exciting musical collaboration with Spanish guitarist Paul Gerard. In these poems, Pete tunes his eye for injustice and absurdity, writing of civil unrest in Madrid, set against Spain’s deep history and culture. He makes us see Europe not as ignorant tourists but as intelligent, questioning observers looking back on the old world from a curious corner of the new one.
You can learn more about Pete and read some of his poetry, including the centrepiece of this collection, ‘Girl Reading Lorca’, on his website: www.petehaywriter.wordpress.com, or on Facebook. 

An Evening in Andalusia

Pete Hay and Paul Gerard are kicking off an exciting collaborative tour on the 3rd of August at the Peacock Theatre. An Evening in Andalusia celebrates the great Andalusian poet Federico García Lorca. Lorca was executed in 1936 in the first weeks of the Spanish Civil War. His poetry was banned for 20 years after his death, but he is now regarded as a great Spanish poet. Lorca’s many books of poetry, plays and theatre works have been performed, and loved, by people all over the world.

An Evening in Andalusia features original poetry by Pete Hay, from his book Girl Reading Lorca, published by Bright South, and exhilarating Spanish guitar music by Paul Gerard. In it, Pete and Paul pay homage to Lorca and the haunted landscape of Andalusia. Pete’s poetry is interwoven with Paul Gerard’s original compositions, which also reflect on Lorca’s extraordinary life. Pieces include ‘Song for Dali’, which explores Lorca’s great friendship with the painter Salvador Dali, and ‘Lorca’s Dream’, which evokes the agonising choices made by Lorca in the final weeks of his life.

Bright South proud to be supporting this fabulous tour with various services including photography, writing, graphic design and marketing.

Pete Hay Poet Website

Of one of Tasmania’s greatest poets, of Pete Hay, Rachel Edwards wrote: “no one else takes the temperature of this island like Hay, and no one else uses Tasmania as such an effective prism through which to consider human nature” (The Australian, September 18, 2016 – See a copy on Rachel’s blog).

Pete is a wonderful poet but so much more as well. In a tempestuous isle, he has long been a voice for temperance, conciliation and fairness, while never losing sight of the wonder, majesty and intrinsic value of Tasmania’s, and the world’s natural environment. He speaks up for those whose voices are so often lost in political and media discourse – traditional foresters and farmers with a love for, and deep understanding of the ecology of the lands they and their forebears have long worked, often so much more sensitively and ethically than the huge corporations which now run so much of the Global economy.

Pete speaks for ordinary Tasmanian families, wherein there are so often rifts between siblings, cousins, and generations – between those who consider themselves to be on one side of the political divide, and those on the other – between those who want reliable work and to provide for their families, and those who want above all to protect what makes Tasmania unique and special.

Over the years Pete has trodden the halls of government, been an academic and a lecturer, and steadily contributed to scholarly debate; but he has also written innumerable essays. They have appeared in wilderness calendars, art exhibition catalogues, forwards in books, opinion pieces in the newspaper, everywhere! For this reason I believe that Pete has had an incredibly profound influence on Tasmanian thought and writing. Barely a novel has appeared in Tasmania that doesn’t seem to me to bear the trace of Pete’s thoughts, his temperament, his ethics, or his generous and sensitive celebration of, and belief in Australia’s unique island state and her people.

It is for all of these reasons that Bright South offered to construct a website for Pete – because his work deserves to be still better known, his influence acknowledged, and to continue spread the word about his work and make it more accessible. The site is now live – check it out, it’s beautiful! And proudly constructed by Bright South. It features photos by both Bright South and Pete, as well as many other fabulous contributors: www.petehaywriter.wordpress.com

For a self-professed Luddite, Pete has been an enthusiastic and courageous supporter of this endeavour and, yes, he has published blog posts all by himself! He’s even got right behind the Facebook thing too – you can follow him there to keep completely up to date: www.facebook.com/petehaywriter/

An image of Pete Hay (notepad in hand) and Ollie, on the seashore.
Pete and Ollie