REVIEWS

Trumped by grace, Peter Stiles

Published by Poetica Christi Press, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9941640-2-5

Review by David Jasper – Glasgow and Beijing

The true poet speaks with a particular voice, articulated in rhythms, rhymes and verbal colours. Peter Stiles’ voice carries a stillness that is yet passionate, deeply faithful, but knowing and quietly humorous. The gentle poems in this collection are at home in Australia, but travel easily between the Jewish quarter of Prague, to Assisi, Oxford and New Zealand. They exchange words with other poets and writers from Seamus Heaney to C. S. Lewis, but also artists and musicians from Rembrandt and Dali to Schumann and Duruflé. They live in broad worlds of nature and culture, but hold at their centre the intimate joys of family and friends and the sadness of bereavement. Stiles is a profoundly Christian poet whose writing glints with an occasional steeliness that echoes the verse of John Donne in its sharp precision and its piercing sense of God’s presence and grace known everywhere in the world around us. Underlying it are repeated biblical references and allusions, interwoven with a poet’s immediate sensitivities to the world in which we live in both city and in nature and its changing seasons. As T. S. Eliot wrote many years ago, writing religious literature is a difficult and delicate business. It can be overburdened with its own insistence or deafen us with its preachiness. In Stiles there are neither of these things. His poems are written moments caught in the instant of the creative impulse which becomes, in his words, “a moment to savour,/ the wisp of otherness,/ a gasp on the trapeze.” It is in the felt life of the language that the energy is communicated and shared in incidents, the sense of place, the love of family, and the presence of God’s grace. For the Christian time is to a large degree governed by the seasons of the liturgical year, above all Christmas and Easter, and these festivals, too, are very much part of these poems. For readers from the northern hemisphere, of course, they are seen in reverse in Australia, their associations of deep winter and emerging spring turned back upon themselves. Yet, as Stiles remarks in his Introduction, “these reversals to the norm afford a fresh perspective”, while at the same time, in the spirit of these poems, they hold us in a universal vision so that even “in the heat of summer”, “I measure out my life in Christmas trees.” Peter Stiles’ poems are jewels to be treasured and lived with.

Review by Ian Keast

The opening line of “Grace“, ( p36), I am trumped by grace, mocked by love… provides the title for, and serves as an apt introduction to, this collection. The poem, like the others, is infused with a generosity, acceptance, devotion, a sense of wonder, gratitude – it is after all, conveying grace. The poet is forced to look to God above…whose goodness shines/through plans and dreams…He hears, your gentle voice, / nuanced and fine… and tastes the palate, the colour of premium wine… Here is a rich, strong, sensory image, poured into the heart by a loving Lord. But the poem does not end there. All of this brings the poet to a greater devotion, your voice brings me back to a wooden cross; all has indeed been trumped by grace. 2 These qualities of “Grace” point to the other poems. They are comprehensive in scope, covering different places: Sydney (where the poet lives); the Blue Mountains; the South Coast of NSW; travels throughout New Zealand; Europe; England. They cover the poet’s people: his father, family, grandchildren, places of childhood and earlier career. They cover his reflections on art and literature. They cover the ordinary and the spectacular. There is also a variety of form, with a prose poem and haiku included. In all these, grace spills out into a wide and generous creation, to be gratefully accepted, and the poet invites us to share with him. For all of the above reasons, this is an exciting collection to read. There is an additional feature, which trumps them all. It is seen in the layers of meaning, the economy and strength of this haiku, (p.42) If I reach in through The window of my childhood The bed is still warm True, this resonates with the other poems about the poet’s childhood and growing up in country areas, but it is the quality and the strength of the image which is the remarkable feature of Peter Stiles’ poetry. This is the real gift of this book. It is a quality evident throughout, proof that grace is to be portrayed in clear, specific, sometimes risky and unusual, always glorious and uplifting, language. It is worthy of nothing less! Space will allow just a few examples. From, the moving, “Denniston, New Zealand “, (p46), This is an ascension into sadness… ; “New Year’s Eve, 2005 “, (p24-25), …the fault lines run so deep/ in this malignant world. ; “ Resurrection Sunday “, (p47) , …the bunting of grace in the shards of cruelty,/the banner of joy for the grimace of sadness. Trumped by Grace comes with justifiable recommendations from a number of international academics/poets. These poems do invite us to read and meditate. And this book offers something more: for our secularising culture, it offers a winsome statement of imagination derived from grace.

Review by Paul Grover

Poetica Christi Press produces beautifully-designed and richly diverse collections of poetry, photography and reflections, and has been doing so for 25 years. The team at Poetica Christi Press are blessed with enthusiastic members and talented writers, resulting in a publication list that is both extensive and enriching. These three recently-published books are testament to the quality and depth of the work being published.

One reviewer of Peter Stiles’ new work, Trumped by grace, has compared his writing with that of George Herbert and Gerald Manley-Hopkins, while others have commented on his poetic ear, his drawing upon music, visual art across themes of life, death, pain and love. His work is infused with precise imagery, and with a deep understanding of the transcendent inhabiting the everyday. The poems range across the bush, cities and suburbia, beaches, mountains, flowers and houses, and throughout the collection are carefully crafted images and insights that bring joy and delight – and deep insight.

 Patches of Godlight, Janette Fernando

Published by Poetica Christi Press (January 29, 2016)

ISBN: 978-09941640-4-9

 Leigh Hay, author,editor,poet

Patches of Godlight is a refreshingly honest book about one woman’s journey towards a closer relationship with God. In diary entries spanning two decades, Janette Fernando questions, struggles, rejoices and abides in God’s unfailing love. She complements her diary entries with superbly crafted poetry that is both evocative and rich in imagery. Her profoundly moving text and accompanying photographs make for inspirational reading. Patches of Godlight is testament to Janette Fernando’s skills as a writer and poet. It is also a testament to her love for her saviour. This book honours God.

John Smith, Author, preacher, Founder of God’s Squad

“This is the work of a courageous, sensitive, vulnerable, new millennium Psalmist, who like David of old, finds intimacy and faith in the realities of life. From the laundry to the cathedral, from the tragedy of NY 9/11 to the desert outback of Australia this is poetry on a journey to the Promised Land.”

Sharon Witt, Author, Educator

Patches of Godlight is a raw, honest and inspiring account of the wrestle so many of us face in life; the questions we seek of God and the desire to know Him with greater depth and intimacy. This book reflects how, in our deepest struggles, and darkest hours, the Lord shines His light through the cracks and crevices of our lives, to remind us of his eternal presence.”

Dr. Peter Stiles, Excelsia College, Sydney

There are certainly ‘patches of Godlight’ in Janette Fernando’s engaging collection of poetry, journal entries and photographs. We enter her personal narrative at a challenging time. Alone, she prepares to travel to Holland and England in 1995. There is an emotional rawness and spiritual dependency in this early prose. Her desire for security and intimacy with God is apparent in the immediacy of separation, loneliness and reflections on cultural identity. As her work moves into the equally rich but more familiar surroundings of Australian life, we can only agree with Janette Fernando’s quoted premise, that ‘time is only that we may find God’. Through all the personal dramas, sadness, joys and triumphs that human life inevitably contains, the impetus for spiritual understanding is energetically maintained. Her ongoing quest is an encounter with encouraging ‘patches’ of divine grace and goodness, reflecting a life lived in the dappled awareness of God’s love and care. This journey through the decades can be savoured by discerning readers.

Reviewed by Paul Grover

Janette Fernando’s Patches of Godlight is a beautifully produced book of poems, prayers and contemplations, with a range of full colour photographs complementing the collection throughout. Janette draws from her living journal that records her thoughts and prayers as she travels and encounters people and places that inspire, challenge and confront her. The book is a large-format paperback, and this allows the range of poems, reflections and photographs a generous space to both complement each other and inform each other. As Dr John Smith, the founder of God’s Squad, says: ‘This is the work of a courageous, sensitive, vulnerable, new millennium Psalmist, who like David of old finds intimacy and faith in the realities of life.’

 Imagine

Edited by Janette Fernando and Maree Silver

Published by Poetica Christi Press, 2016

poeticachristi.org.au

ISBN: 978-0-99441640-5-6

 Imagine – reviewed by Paul Grover

The Imagine anthology is a 2016 collection of almost a hundred poems from almost a hundred poets, and with poems that look at life, love, longing and lost lives in imaginative and creative ways. You will recognise familiar Studio poets in this selection, including Jeff Guess, Jan Price, Valerie Volk, Marlene Marburg and Jean Sietzema-Dickson. You will be richly rewarded while exploring the ideas and creative images these poets offer, and a number of the poems in this anthology have won prizes in major poetry competitions.

Imagine – Earl Livings – Writer, Editor, Teacher

“This striking anthology features ‘Imagine’ as verb, noun, adjective and adverb, as act, as facility, as perspective, as place, as product, and as effect. The poems within range from the cosmic to the domestic, from Biblical and prehistoric origins to human and familial ghosts, from memories of war and youth to moments of love and regret, from schoolyard to conflict-zone to red desert to old people’s home, from water dazzle to blue wren flitter, from What Is to What If… Generosities of words shaped for wonder…”  

 Inner Child

Edited by Leigh Hay and Maree Silver

Published by Poetica Christi Press, 2015

poeticachristi.org.au

ISBN: 978-0-9941640-1-8

 Reviewed by Ian Keast

 Even before we open the book, the cover’s artwork, by Tom Gibbs, is arresting mind and imagination with many possibilities. The representation is of a child, sporting a Superman T-shirt, ‘superimposed’ on the adult? or the adult on the child? The child becomes the adult? Adult becomes the child? Experience in contrast to childish innocence? The adult as disguised “superhero”? The adult protective of the child? In particular, protective of the child’s imagination? The adult “hanging on “to the child within ? … Many ideas, many associations raised by the artwork and the title, Inner Child.

 The editors, Leigh Hay and Maree Silver, traverse the scope of “Inner Child “in their Introduction to the Anthology :

Our inner child belongs to us and to us alone. It lives in our hearts, minds and memories. Every now and then it craves to be let out…our inner childhood reflects the joy of our unique childhood…is protected, cared for, nurtured, and upheld by the wisdom of the adults around us…In this Australian anthology, poets return to their unpredictable inner child…recollect scenes, emotions, and adventures of childhood…speak of the sheer joy of being a child of God…In this Anthology, the inner child is celebrated, recalled, reinvented and shared…

 And the Anthology delivers on this ambitious quest. Here is a thought-provoking, reflective and varied collection. The poems range over the spectrum of our emotions: the poignant, haunting and moving to the joyful and humorous. It includes the poems of the Poetica Christi Press 2014 Competition, (with the winner, runner-up, and others commended), as well as other poems selected for this publication.

Space will not allow any detailed reference to the poems. Suffice to say that these honest and insightful writings evoke the overlapping, sometimes paradoxical, always bountiful, features of our inner child. Irresistible, as in, Jean Sietzema-Dickson’s, “Child’s Play”, (p113),

My inner child/ wants to play/ all day

You say, There’s work for you/ I say,  That’s for you to do. / Not me!

  Threshold

By Maree Silver

Published by Poetica Christi Press, 2015

www.poeticachristi.org.au

ISBN: 978-0-9941640-0-1

 Reviewed by Ian Keast, February 2017

 “Threads and patterns” is a remarkable 8 line poem (p79), which is an apt introduction to Threshold, the first book of poetry by Maree Silver, a Melbourne-based poet. It is worth quoting in full:

Held fast by threads of language

thought strands are woven

into a web of words

Spun lightly

to catch the imagination

using the colours of life

the pattern unique

The fabric endures

 …language…thought strands…words…imagination…colours of life…pattern unique…: elements all woven together to produce the energy of this rewarding book.

The poet shows, (in C.S. Lewis’s phrase), “the art and joy of words.” At times they are rich and sensory, as in “One Summer Night“ (p 11). We can see and hear and smell this country night. Other times they capture “place”: country and city , (Melbourne), in its different moods – “Melbourne in Winter“  (p 98) and the welcome surprise in “Currawong Bush Park “ ( p 94), “… Half an hour from Melbourne Central…”, it is country. This strand of “place” and its evocation of, (often), childhood memories,mand “people”, is a strength of the pattern unique. Earlier generations are depicted in the Section, “Family Pictures “. Memorable here are the affectionate poems describing her father – practical, skilled and creative, his words spoken with his hands, “…Singlehandedly, with Mum as general labourer/despite post war rationing/ he built our three bedroom country home/ with large kitchen   lined with cupboards… (“Dad of Mine “  p 36) – and, similarly, her mother’s artistry, “…A collection/ your inner artist/ made beautiful” , ( “ Memories” p 39).

Appropriately the colours of life of “place” and “people“, are predominantly light – the words are energised, full of affection, beauty, and joy. They bounce and jump, almost staccato-like, from the pages. But the colours of life also include the dark. So there are a number of poems which reflect the walk through the valley of the shadow of death, in the Section, “Threads and Patterns “. Of these, “The Celebrant” (p 83) is a stand-out, with its simple, yet moving language. In the midst of abundant life and light celebrated in many of the poems in this miscellany, the poet reminds us that the colours also include the grey and black of shadows.

The essence of the pattern unique is the gift of seeing, really seeing. The quote from Jonathan Swift, before the first Section, “Vision is the art of seeing/ what is invisible to others” (p 8), applies throughout the collection. The poet’s well-chosen photographs and overall design of the book, add to its visual statement. Her poetry enables us to “see” not only “place”and “people”. We encounter even the small and beautiful of creation in the delightful Section, “Earth and Air”: guided by the poet we possess the X-ray vision of Swift. And we are gently encouraged to “see “in a deeper, spiritual sense. This is infused throughout, as in, “Black Water Billabong”, ( p22),  the lament of “Black Swan“, (p26), and more explicitly in the final Section, “Inner Being “. The collection has been taking us quietly, inexorably, on this marvellous journey, prodding us to “see” the pattern unique. This is where the title poem, “Threshold”, (p 113) gratefully, joyfully, leaves us, “… Your quiet voice / stills/ my soul / sets it singing “

Reviewed by Meryl Brown-Tobin, August 13, 2016

Congratulations on a beautiful book! I finished reading Threshold this week and enjoyed it very much.  The writer of the review on the back cover was spot on with their comment.

You have a distinctive voice that I picked up after only a couple of poems.  You paint many lyrical pictures as you do in the early poems in the book.  Every word is just right in ‘Bridport’, p25. Sometimes you add an extra layer as in ‘Black Water Billabong’, p22, a powerful poem for a people dispossessed.  Full of strong imagery, it makes an important point.  An ethical voice runs through this and other poems, but it is not preachy or lecturing.

‘Eyes Wide Open’ is a cautionary tale, p80.  As I shared several similar experiences, I particularly related to your experience. ‘Enduring Love’, ‘The Celebrant, ‘Trapeze’ and ‘November Finale’ were particularly moving, pp82-85. Your powerful metaphor of a brush in ‘Brushed by Imagination’ ties your poem together, p86.  ‘Tangled Visions’, p87, is another poignant and evocative poem about the pain of a confused mind.  Another sad poem ‘Hidden Depths’ introduces a mystery, p88.  I love ‘Contradiction’, p95, with its humorous yet poignant ending that echoed its title.  Like many of your poems that appeal to many of the senses, ‘City Images’, p107, the poem makes the reader feel part of the scene you describe.  On p 11 the six line poem ‘Reflector’ is not only succinct but also motivates the reader to reflect on life.

Your colour cover and photos in the book were a bonus – all chosen to fit in with the content.  Your choice of quotes also added to the overall presentation and effect.  A fine production in which your photographic skills complemented your writing skills.

 Circumnavigation, by Cathy Altmann

Published by Poetica Christi Press, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-9871381-7-0

Reviewed by Ian Keast

Circumnavigation is a collection of poems about Cathy Altmann’s “journey” with breast cancer. The poems are honest, moving, at times visceral, always perceptive, deeply personal, gently infused with a sense of soli deo Gloria (referred to in acknowledgements).

The reader is taken on a journey – not the title, the cover design, (a photo of the Columbus Monument, Washington) and the illustrations used throughout. Great car has been taken with the book’s production to complement the poet’s ideas. The book is carefully presented; the poems are carefully crafted.

Throughout the journey, we are conscious of time and the pivotal significance of small measures of time. There are, for example, two poems titled, Five Minutes, during which there are key occurrences. In the first, the diagnosis is made:

“till I believed the word

which was not spoken

 

while the world

slowly somersaulted.”

 

In, A Year Later, the announcement is of remission:

“…that word

Normal”

In between is the journey with its sense of loss, described in this vivid image in Mastectomy,

“A tree in autumn

looking down

through empty branches

to a pool

of red leaves

at its feet.”

and the different stages of treatment and some degree of acceptance.

A measure of the journey is music. From the grimness and darkness of The Music Room, the more hopeful Rehearsal, to the hope suggested in Bourke Street Mall, with the image of the pan-pipe player and the poet’s reactions,

“…I’m Miranda climbing

the rock higher and higher turning my face back in a dream…” The dark of the earlier portion of the journey has given way to,

“the sun catching the metal thread at the edges of his body…”. Here is light and hope and freedom.

As a reviewer I found these poems masterful in their complexity, thoughtfulness, precision, love and emotion. They stir one’s own emotions; they make a strong appeal to the head and the heart.

a lightness of being

edited by Janette Fernando

Published by Poetica Christi Press, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-9871381-9-4

Reviewed by Ian Keast

This is a fine anthology of poems to read and reflect upon. The poems have been submitted to a competition conducted by Poetica Christi Press and assembled for publication.

Janette Fernando, as Editor, writes in her foreword, “One of the tasks of the poet is to stop, look, listen, reflect and record the ‘present moment’ in a way that will resonate with the reader or provide a new perspective.” “Being” is important in contemporary society where there is so much emphasis on ‘doing’, where ‘busyness” equals “ideal”. The poets aim to capture “a lightness of being” as they respond to the ‘present moment’ of life. They capture these different moments admirably, and over a range of varied, and, at times, unusual subjects, including: Hills Hoists, water, walking, flowers, babies, bees, playing, love, bath-time, home, fellowship, prayer. The subjects are diverse and these poems “pay attention to all that is good in life” as the Editor writes. This diversity makes the anthology a delight to read.

I hesitate, even in reviewing an anthology, to single out a poet and a poem. But I will do this, as one of the poems, in a whimsical manner, resonated with this reviewer: Nostalgia! Miracles! Joy! Aging! by Cameron Semmens. A few lines will give you a taste:

“I don’t love getting older…

but there are perks…” and

“And I realise,

when surrounded by the teeming throngs of festival teens

I am comfortable with myself; comfortable

with what I have to say, comfortable

saying what I think; which I think to them,

at times, seems wise. It seems

I’ve just grown into wisdom

like my older brother’s jumper…

and it’s a comfy fit.”

The ‘lightness’ and ‘wisdom’ captured in this poem reflect the anthology as a whole.

Capturing Clouds, by Leigh Hay

Published by Poetica Christi Press, 2013

ISBN: 978 09871-3-8

Review – Dale HarcombeMay 15, 2014

I enjoyed so much about this book. To start with it is beautifully presented. I love the cover artwork and the title. But of course that is not enough reason to love the book. I enjoyed taking my time to savour the poems. The contrast in A Block from Punt Road between ‘the traffic worms pulse’ and the busy car choked scene with the ’winter wash of blue’ and ‘latticed branches litter the sky’ and ‘loquacious birds ‘is very effective. Add to this the mournful sound of the cello and the poem resonates with colour and sound.
I loved Dance Card with its pictures of autumn leaves. The simple illustration at the beginning of this poem is perfect, as are many of the other black and white illustrations scattered throughout. Sometime it was individual phrases and lines that caught my attention like ‘conversations pepper pockets of space’ in Sustenance.
The poems are visual and sensory with mostly interesting use of imagery. The picture of a child playing in Tools of Imagination is simply captured. The last Saturday in September gives the juxtaposition of a woman feeding the magpies in the park with that of the umpire and the footy grand final going on at the MCG. I chuckled over the wry humour about time in Attention Seeking and relished the visual feast of colour that included ‘the flame trees fire’ and the ‘Jacarandas bevy of bells’ in Grapefruit Butter. Basically I could have kept going taking phrases that appealed out of nearly every poem.
This is a joyous collection of poems, yet not without its reflective sad moments which I could associate with in Missing a Daughter. I loved the irony of the title poem as it pokes fun at business methods of the times, and brings attention back to what is important. For those who appreciate poetry this is an enjoyable and satisfying collection of poems.

Review – Nola –  May 11, 2014

There is much to enjoy in this debut poetry collection by Leigh Hay. Poems are grouped around five broad themes: waltz-swept seasons, sunny breaks, flurries of hope, silky filaments, and life-giving rains. As the names suggest, this is a largely upbeat anthology celebrating the simple pleasures of life. There are recollections of family and friends, narratives of interesting people, snapshots of travel, observations of everyday occurrences, expressions of faith and hope, and lots of coffee.
Hay employs vivid imagery, such as the eucalypts that are ‘strip-searched’ during a storm (p. 7) and the poem Fog Shadows in which ‘suspended droplets crowd / sardined in soupy space’ (p. 11). There is also good use of metaphor, with painting techniques describing the sky in the poem unstructured (p. 13), threads explaining friendship (‘You are my filament of friendship / tacking me to all that you are’, p. 46), and dance imagery capturing the falling autumn leaves right up until they’re ‘skewered by a callous stiletto’ (p. 15).
The poems are written in an accessible style, with many having a restful, thoughtful quality. Some are moving (e.g., the tears shed in Hanoi Easter and the heartfelt prayer of Irrigation), but there is also joy and wry humour. My Nut Brown Maiden is bound to raise a smile with churchgoers who wish they could dispose of unpleasant parishioners like the chooks that lose their heads for Sunday lunch. I also loved the satire in the title poem Capturing Clouds, which pulls the lid off the industries that spring up around the latest sure fire way to find meaning in life.
My only slight hesitation is that there is the occasional lapse into cliché (e.g., ‘cover of darkness’, ‘as push comes to shove’). Although this doesn’t occur often, it contrasts sharply with the beautiful, often inventive imagery portrayed elsewhere in the book. However, that is only a minor criticism. It’s an appealing collection as a whole.
The book is also nicely presented, with photography and illustrations throughout and an original watercolour painting by Yeşim M. Gözükara as the cover. It would make a lovely gift book for those who like to dip into poetry for relaxation and pleasure.

Anne Hamilton – May 11, 2014

A fine collection of poems where so often, with a light flick of the poetic wrist, the established mood shifts – light to shadow, or dark to bright.
I particularly enjoyed Dance Card in this respect. A celebration of the autumnal elegance of nature is pierced by a heel. The innocent child-like delight of Watercolour Wondering was refreshing.
The eponymous Capturing Clouds, although very different from the other offerings in the book, was so much fun – combining sharp-eyed farce with biting social commentary. It seemed almost possible to sense the writer’s glee moving through this thought-provoking piece.

Omega Writers – Aug 25, 2014

This first collection of Leigh Hay’s poems is tastefully illustrated by her partner David Hay, and published by Poetic Christi Press. The contents are divided into sections entitled Waltz-swept seasonsSunny breaksFlurries of hopeSilky filaments and Life-giving rain.
Hay creates lovely word pictures describing the seasons, the garden and its creatures. She also has reflections on the seasons of life, and on God’s blessings. Although written from a Christian worldview, only a few poems refer specifically to ‘religion’ and include interesting ones inspired by travels in China and Japan.
This collection is both warm and reassuring, but with sharp insight too, and enough surprises to guarantee it will be dust-free for the discerning reader.

 Memory Weaving

Edited by Carolyn Vimpani

Published by Poetica Christi Press, 2014

ISBN: 978-9871381-5-6

The threads of each of our lives are woven to form unique personal memories, our stories. With the onset of dementia these threads become tangled and frayed forming unfamiliar designs interwoven with strands collected from yesterday’s fragmented recollections and today’s confusing encounters.

“If the person doesn’t know you any more, what’s the point of going to see them?’ Memory Weaving is an eloquent answer to this. It is a book about loss and love, the gradual loss of the person as dementia progresses, and the loyalty and love that endures. The person remains – mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, spouse, friend… They have a history and if they cannot hold their memories then we must do so for them, to weave anew the fabric of lived experience.

Our culture tends to define what is human by what a person does or achieves… this book reminds us that this is not so.

If you have or care for someone with dementia, you will find your own experiences in this anthology. If you want family and friends to understand the journey you and the one you love are making, give them this book!

Exploring the Depths – Review by Paul Grover 

Edited by Janette Fernando

Published by Poetica Christi Press, 2013

ISBN: 978 09871381 -4-9

Taking Flight – Review by Paul Grover

Edited by Janette Fernando

Published by Poetica Christi Press, 2013

ISBN: 978 0 9871381-1-8

www.poeticachristi.org.au

Both reviewed by Paul Grover

These two collections of poetry are published by the richly supportive and very popular Poetica Christi Press.

Each book contains more than 100 pages of poetry from a wide range of poets, exploring themes across a broad range of life experience, childhood and adolescence, letting go and grief, new life and reconciliation. Many of these poems have been winners in Poetica Christi Competitions, so they exhibit the refining fire of competition. Both books are very well designed and beautifully presented. There is a strong sense of journeys taken, journeys experienced and journeys that have left messages (and/or scars) for a lifetime. One blurb speaks of plunging into the unknown, and many of these poems do just that – reaching deep into small and large experiences, brief and long-term relationships, to discover new meanings and new messages.

Many poems confront the raw emotions of losing a loved one, losing a loved child through their life journey and losing your way in life’s rough experiences. Other poems celebrate the rich joys of life and the power of relationships to transform lives.

To quote one or two poems from these fine collections would not in any way do justice to the rich diversity of the poets and poems, so the best advice is to jump onto the website, track down these books and savour them for yourself. That effort will be richly, profoundly rewarded.

 Horizons – review by Paul Grover

Edited by Janette Fernando

Published by Poetica Christi Press, 2012

ISBN:978-0-9871381-0-1

 Everyday Splendour – review by Paul Grover

Edited by Janette Fernando

Published by Poetica Christi Press, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-9757491-9-7

 New Beginnings – review by Paul Grover

Edited by Janette Fernando

Published by Poetica Christi Press, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-9757491-8-0

 Two edged, by Janette Fernando – review by Paul Grover

Published by Poetica Christi Press, 2005

ISBN: 9 7809585458-9-1

 Reviewed by Paul Grover

 Two edged is Janette Fernando’s first collection of poetry, exploring personal visions and deeply experienced moments through a collection that evokes deep responses. Fernando expose, through her poetry, moments from History and nature, moments of sorrow and grace, moments among people and reflections. These are poems that disarm and discover.

New Beginnings, Horizons and Everyday Splendour are edited collections by Janette Fernando, featuring Poetica Christi prize winners, and taking the reader into the beginnings of life, living and dying, and encouraging reflection and renewal. The diversity of work within these pages provides a rich imaginary world that resonates and reminds us of the power of poetry to express and explore our most intense and personal insights. More than 150 poets feature in these rich collections, giving us a window into the world around and within. These books are ones to savour and enjoy for many years to come.

New Beginnings

Edited by Janette Fernando

Publisher: Poetica Christi Press (2010)

ISBN: 978-0-9757491-8-0

Synopsis, by Kevin Brophy

 Words do have sound, weight, shape, personality, and each one has a history all its own. You will love Jenny Macaffer for bringing this old truth back home with the very first poem in the book. And from there the words in these poems will probe their way through our usually dulled-by-routine minds to those moments of pleasurable shock when we come upon ‘a doona of clouds’ (Janette Fernando), the ‘egg tooth’ of Cameron Semmens, or bent nails ‘pointing to the beach’ in a poem where we meet ‘a bumless old bloke’ who pushes a vinyl shopping bag (John West), or we inhale ‘the strident sweetness of new leather’ (Peter Stiles). Yes, these words come home to us and it’s like we are having the sweetest cup of Bushells with them in our own kitchen on our own chairs in our own time, talking deeply as if each word is a thing we can savour with awe. Better than biscuits, better than lamingtons on the lips and in the mouth.

This book is full of beginnings. And the endings are mostly beginnings too. It is full of the seasons, of birth and death, suffering and small joys, of a Christianity that is rooted in the ordinary lives of ordinary saints, the ones that don’t need to be canonized, the ones that know even an unfinished journey can be a miracle. Dip into it, swim through it, step across it, splash yourself with these poems or sip them as you would a steaming cup of the best brew you can find. In the words of Nan Good, let go, go slow, and enjoy yourself in this ‘good company’.

 Stick Your Neck Out, by Leigh Hay

Published by Poetica Christi Press, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-9585458-9-1

Stick Your Neck Out is the funny, touching, uplifting tale of two giraffes and a black hole that sucks.

Geoffrey has lost his mood for giving. His life has become a gi-normous black hole. He is untouchable and unreachable…until small, sweet Penelope sticks her neck out. On her silver scooter, dressed to the max in glitter gumboots and very own tiara, Penelope rocks up to Geoffrey’s front gate to share her light and bedazzle the whole black hole saga.
Stick Your Neck Out is heart-warming hope for anyone affected by life’s black holes.

Reflecting on Melbourne

Edited by Janette Fernando and Jean M. Sietzema-Dickson

Product details

Hardback: 152

Publisher: Poetica Christi Press, 2009

ISBN:  978-0-9757491-7-3

Trim size: 300 x 235 mm

Synopsis   

This is a book to showcase Melbourne. A fitting tribute to the city, which has been declared to be the second city of Literature in the world.

Collecting poetry from all over Melbourne the editors have arranged a journey through the city for you starting with our Koori origins, taking in our rivers, our seasons and weather, our transport, our inner city life and that of the suburbs.

You are given a glimpse of people’s lives and recreations.

Here, in image and song, is Melbourne in all its multicultural and multitudinous, marvellous and malevolent glory. A super tram-load of poets ring the bell and, one-by-one, show their Melbourne from the city to the suburbs, from the Yarra tot eh bay – from Ouyang Yu’s bewildering winter crowing at blackbirds to …the late Lisa Bellear’s elegiac parting line on a passing fancy. And if you need a break from the poets, gaze out the tram window at the images. Ever wondered where, in Melbourne, Jesus would have been crucified? Michael Donnelly’s etchings provide the answer: Chadstone Shopping Centre. Read this super tram of poetry and see why Melbourne is a City of Literature.

Reflecting on Melbourne is a book you will want to own.  It’s also a book to hand on to your children and grandchildren.  Reflecting on Melbourne is a coffee table book of poetry that reflects the life of Melbourne – its people, paces and culture.  With contributions from 144 poets (many of Australia’s finest) complemented by superb photography and artwork, Melbourne Reflections is our salute and tribute to the greatness of Melbourne.