REVIEW OF SILVER LININGS
REVIEW OF PATCHES OF GODLIGHT
REVIEW OF JOY ON THE MORNING
Joy in The Morning
Janette Fernando and Maree Silver (eds)
Published by Poetica Christi Press, 2020
ISBN : 978-0-6482488-5-9
Reviewed by Ian Keast
flute of a bird song
cello of wind through trees-
concerto in joy
The precise, ‘of the moment,’ image by Erica Woolgar in her haiku, evokes the beauty, the music of praise of a new day : What is it about mornings that so often gives us joy, or hope, or renewal? ask the Editors, Janette Fernando and Maree Silver, in the Foreword to this Anthology, which comes from the Poetica Christi Press Competition of 2020. As in previous Anthologies, there is a range of subject matter and poetic styles, as well as a beautifully produced book, in terms of design, photography, and layout.
The ‘lightness’ and the ‘ordinariness’ of the morning, is well captured in David Terelinck’s, A simpler time; the routines of the day’s beginning in, In the wordless silence, (Florence Lisner); Morning cuppa, (Julie A King), and, Morning rituals, (Avril Bradley).
But there is also the ‘extraordinary’ in the morning. The light rising from the dark is nature’s daily sermon, pointing to ‘something other’. The International Space Station, by Chris Ringrose, has, “Each of the sixteen dawns is a glory
with nothing to dim the sun…
but the divine has doubled
back on them and is hiding
in the dew, the lake, the mist,
the oatmeal, coffee and
this morning’s waking child.”
Many of the poems express this wonder in the morning’s hope, thankfulness, promise; and the miracle of life even in the acknowledgement of the ‘dark night of the soul.’ Being the 2020 Anthology, a number of the poems make reference to the ‘darkness’, and uncertainty, of the Covid pandemic. Leanne Wicks, for example, in, Covert Questions,
“ This morning’s prayer offering remains furled
as I raise a re-sanitised hand
on the first client’s door
asking covid questions to fulfil essential care.”
It is appropriate that the Anthology moves to the poems which explore the Son rising in Resurrection, as in,
“…Gardener of all life
he who first woke buds
woven from the fabric of the sky
watered with earth’s wells
those grieving their God. (Greg Burns)
This Anthology presents the morning in all its colours and moods. It offers the reader an abundance of poetry for reflection and celebration of the miracle we receive each day; it provides a healthy reminder of the ‘something other’ on offer, we often ignore. What is it about mornings that so often gives us joy, or hope, or renewal? was our beginning question. The Anthology calls us back to see the Joy which is ours in The Morning, in ‘How Joy Arises’, (the runner-up entry), by Scott-Patrick Mitchell,
…We could use a word like glory, and we shall… Give gratitude,
send love, trust in the divine plan. How it holds you in tender hands.
We should use a word like prayer, and we have. Yes. It is another
day…like so many you have lived before. But the fact that you are
here, now: surely this makes today holy, if not holier.
REVIEW OF INTERLUDES
For lovers of Australian and New Zealand literary fiction; Ambassador for Australian literature
Posted by: Lisa Hill | December 1, 2018
Book launch: Interludes, edited by Janette Fernando and Maree Silver
Today I went to the launch of a poetry anthology called Interludes. I was invited by poet and author Mairi Neal who readers know as an occasional guest reviewer of short stories on this blog. In a competition open to poets from all over Australia, Mairi had two poems selected for inclusion in the book.
The book was to have been launched by much loved Melbourne poet Judith Rodriguez who passed away last week (see her obituary here) so her place was taken by Philton, another notable Melbourne poet whose work has been published in journals such as Overland and Quadrant, as well as overseas. He has published a number of collections also published by Poetica Christi Press, and has been a judge of national poetry awards. After his speech to launch the book there was beautiful music provided by Cathy Altmann and Angela Chandler, followed by an introduction to the poems by the editor Maree Silver, and then selected readings, punctuated about half way through by more lovely music.
Interludes is a beautifully presented book with the design, cover and layout by Cameron Semmens. The selection and sequencing of the poems allows the themes to follow on naturally from one another, showcasing a variety of different forms but all of them reminders of things we shouldn’t ignore.
Browsing through the poems I found themes of old age and death. ‘True North’ by Rosalyn Black, (the winner of the competition) features striking images from Kristallnacht:
After the exile
my grandfather wrote
poems stunted and sour
sifted by memory
ash, glass and bones.
‘Your Song’ by Gavin Austin is a meditation on grief:
It has been a year
since you were taken from me;
a year of having to live as one
is like unlearning my name
I am a foreigner in a strange land…
you are everywhere
but do not walk beside me.
Mairi Neil’s poem ‘A Branch of the Green Oak Tree’ speaks of the dislocation when a loved one’s ashes are scattered far from the land of birth and the graveyard of ancestors:
Someone may pause in the future
and celebrate the discovery
of “George died Australia 2005”.
I hear his voice still
fill a pothole in James Road with my ashes
but what meaning has life
if no record of existence?
The etched headstone a remnant
of another uprooted Gael.
‘Between Homes’ by Kerry Harte is accompanied by a triptych of B&W photos of dynamic older women:
I’m reading the shiny brochure
for the nursing home and I want to believe
in the new lease on life they are selling.
Even my walking frame moves in solar flares
of anticipation today, sparked by promises of
freedom. I can feel the shackles of a lifetime
fall away. It’s a gentle falling: an airborne
tissue kind of falling, not the heavy thud
of disappointment I’ve grown accustomed to.
I could really relate to the shock of ‘Heartbeat’ by David Campbell (though my medication has matters under control now, thank goodness!)
Atrial fibrillation is a medical term
that slips from the tongue
of avuncular specialists. Arrhythmia:
a bad connection
of electrical impulses
that control the beat — beat — beat of a muscle
the size of my fist.
You cannot know cannot possibly know
that loss of rhythm. The shock
short-circuits the dynamo powering blood
through veins and arteries. The heart
hammers its message suddenly
threatening to escape
its bone-brittle cage.
There is a poem expressing respect for Indigenous lore and law in ‘Angkerle Arrenge (Standley Chasm) by Greg Burns, and there are poems featuring moments of reflection by the sea, the suburbs, the bush and the city. And there are stunning metaphors that speak to the quality of this collection. There is
- the gunmetal grey of a failing marriage in ‘Custodial Visits’ by Richenda Rudman;
- the pale pigeon grey of the sky in ‘Sunday Evening by Shane McCauley;
- Princes Bridge smarting with tourists in ‘My Other Melbourne Morning’ by Leigh Hay;
- the street art of shopping trolleys in ‘(The Interlude of) A Morning Walk in Suburbia’ by Ian Keast; and (my favourite because my library overlooks lush jasmine in Spring)
- one of those jasmine evenings/ when there’s just flywire/ between you and outside in ‘Melbourne September 2017’ by Wendy Fleming.
It’s hard to choose just a few, but I really liked:
- ‘Take a moment’ by Janine Johnson, who begins with She loosens the shackles of the clock/allows herself moments…
- ‘Betwixt’, a playful poem by Bill Rush, that explores a word uneasy in a twenty-first century poem
- ‘A Pleasantly Plump Dove’ by Catherine Lewis, that contrasts the dove so different from the wattle birds!/Diving/sleek and confident
- ‘Crossroads’ by Xiaoli Yang, beset by many voices in this world/ entice me/ to touch/ grab/ hold/ and possess
- ‘Paths to Mystery’ by Cameron Semmens, so apt after reading Sebastian Smee’s essay just yesterday: Turn off your phone/ silence/ is the screen/ of your subconscious.
And this one, ‘Good Morning’ by Jane McMillan ( I wish I could quote it all):
in the half-life of waking
lie silent and still
willing the dream to return
eyes shut tight against
dawn shapes that creep
between curtains, stealthy
ready to snatch loose
tendrils of sleep
resist their advance
pull the quilt higher
grasp at floating
fragments of night…
Oh yes, that’s me!
Editors: Janette Fernando and Maree Silver
Publisher: Poetica Christi Press, 2018, 137 pages
Source: personal library, purchased at the launch, $20.00
Available from Poetica Christi Press. The book can be ordered from the website.
LOVE’S FOOTPRINT – Review by Colleen Keating – IN TOUCH WITH POETRY
The new Anthology, Love’s Footprint edited by Maree Silver & Leigh Hay
LOVE’S FOOTPRINT published by Poetica Christi Press
Edited by Maree Silver & Leigh Hay
It has been a joy to read this anthology by poets whose experiences speak from and into vulnerability, risk, ageing and loss, in ways that are believable and moving. There were many notable poems which surprised and warmed me. You will be consoled and absorbed by the truth-telling of the poets who have in common the human and divine capacity to love in both action and word. (Marlene Marburg, poet and author Grace a upon Grace)
Love’s Footprint – Reviewed by Ian Keast
Edited by Maree Silver and Leigh Hay
Poetica Christi Press, 2019
ISBN : 978-0-6482488-1-1
The opening poem of this Anthology, “Silence”, by Peter Stiles, invites us to the sough of silence, where we can gather the thought, the emotion and the nuance that poetry offers,
There are pools of words that surface in this silence,
charms that spill out glinting in the sun.
The invitation is to read, and to read slowly, all that the poems on “love” offer,
a life-time of resonances
( “ indefinable” , by Carolyn Vimpani).
This Anthology from Poetica Christi Press stems from the 2019 Competition, “Love’s Footprint”. Like their other Competition Anthologies, (available on their website), this one, from its striking cover design, and through the architecture of the various sections, is a joyful, thoughtful, and at times, an emotional and moving, reading experience.
In their Introduction, the Editors, Maree Silver and Leigh Hay, write that,
Love’s footprint is visible in so many facets of our lives. Most of us are birthed and raised with love and those memories of being cherished and nurtured are the secure foundation blocks we build on throughout our lives… In this Anthology, poets have written of love’s many guises. Love between partners, love as remembered events and people; love for pets and love of nature. For some poets, love is in the sheer delight of living. Many have written of God’s abiding love and the joy and security of knowing that God’s unchanging love is an eternal constant. But love’s footprint can also be felt in parting, in the poignant silence of grief, loss and the fallout from conflict…
In short, “Love’s Footprint” is about the heart of our Creator, stamped all over his Creation and us. To read, and read again each poem in this Anthology, is to be rewarded with fresh insights into, “the greatest of these is love.” The poems traverse the width and length and height and depth of love; reminders of The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis- friendship, affection, intimacy, and, deepest of all, agape, abound.
And, at times, the sheer and profound and lasting emotion of it. None more so, than, “Invisible print”, by Valerie Volk, with its concluding lines,
…With loving care I lift your feet,
move them with tenderness
from chair to waiting couch,
or swing those unresponsive limbs,
wearied from efforts of the day,
to mercy of the waiting bed.
We laugh when it is difficult;
but tears submerged are no less painful.
At end of day you touch my hair
in gentle benediction, smiling.
Oh yes, there are still footprints.
Now you leave your loving footprint
On my heart.
things we know without naming
by Cathy Altmann
Poetica Christi Press, 2018
Reviewed by Ian Keast
Cathy Altmann is a Melbourne poet and a familiar name to Studio readers. This is her second book of poetry- Circumnavigation , ( 2014, reviewed in Studio 135 ), was her first.
I mention this to point out that the intervening four years have been marked by, several and unexpected and inevitable things, ( the poet’s introduction.) Some of those relate to her own life- to her sister and mother, and herself as a mother. These are reflected in a number of the poems.
Also significant is Cathy Altmann’s statement about her writing development. It is worth quoting the relevant paragraph from her Introduction, for the insight it offers: …I have found that I write best when I let whatever words might come, come. This is a new kind of writing for me, but the unexpected images and metaphors still, I hope, speak some kind of truth. They are about things we know without naming. And every part of the process, which is hard to describe, was a form of prayer, a form of things arriving.
Let me use this paragraph to “open up” three patterns in the book. The first is seen in the poem, “The drive”. The poet is driving. It is dark. But enough light spills in for her to navigate references to past places and time. Her time is moving on, …At each intersection/ she seems to cross the growth rings/ of some shadowy tree, its grey borders/ seeping from the city to Cranbourne…; the memory of being, …wide-eyed / with chemo in a car with her mother…Her past and present is being relived in the drive, captured through dark/light motifs: It is dark…not clear…danced in the dark…the plane arriving at night… Yet, there is light: …the green signs, the white arrows…the thread of headlights…a slab of light spilling…the sting of lights…At poem’s end, She is far from the burdened city…Only white breadcrumbs guide her now… It is a remarkable suggestive and metaphoric poem: with its careful use of specific words which recur; its progression through the poet’s life; its movement from dark to, (at times uncertain), light.
The second pattern is, to speak of some kind of truth. What is this truth? It is found in, things we know without naming. The book’s title is a line in the poem, “Sediment”. It begins,
Uninvited, everything/ drops a tone or two- we’re in the bass sediment, / and far from being/ sewer-like, it is calming/ to lie down here…In this unexpected place of unexpected images, lies the paradox : with only / the legato lapping/ of meaning at the edge of slush…There are things we know/ without naming…
The third pattern in the book is the exploration of things we know without naming, the truth, which has come in the unexpected paradox of “Sediment”. And truth, (think of G.K. Chesterton’s writings and Jesus’ teaching, for example), often is located and embodied in paradox. What emerges is that these, things we know, are inherent to us, in our make-up; central to our humanness as part of creation. Things familiar and well-known; the ordinary and extraordinary- the loose gold mask of love ( in “Fable” ), longing, meaning, beauty, disappointment, weariness- to suggest a few, within poems such as, “ Eyes”, “ Umber”, “ Summer”, “ Mother”, (the prose poem) “ Honeymoon Island, Cradle Mountain”, “ Moon”, “ Miserere”.
And yet… We wait for the tide. (“Sediment”). There is a waiting and searching. The sense, captured in,” Mouse”, My childhood was spent stitching/things which frayed…Things half begun/and soon left incomplete…, is an underlying awareness that things are not as they should be. There is a longing glimpsed throughout the poems that all might be made complete and abundant and right and whole. That our desire would be fulfilled. Perhaps the humble, waiting, beautiful, biblical simplicity evident in,” Sparrows”- Teetering around the edges/ they come humbly eating/ under tables…/ cribbing life from leftovers./ Two sold for a penny./ …The wingspan / smaller than a hand…They are …waiting/ for that day when heaven/ opens, showering crumbs/ leaves, leftovers and such/ small pennies as they are worth./ – is where the poet takes us in her outstanding and thought-provoking collection. These poems are windows, offering us an opportunity to view an expansive landscape. So, from the Acknowledgements:
soli deo gloria
Edited by Janette Fernando and Maree Silver
Poetica Christi Press 2018
Reviewed by Ian Keast
Janette Fernando and Maree Silver, the editors of this anthology, write in their Foreword, Interludes… ‘in between’ times can be given for us to simply pause in a moment of reflection or wonder; they can be something we seek out when we need breathing space in our busy lives, or time to take stock of ourselves, the world around us, our place in the universe, or even intervals forced on us… It is a comprehensive defining, offering wide scope for the 70 or so poets represented. The Anthology comes from the 2018 Poetica Christi Press Poetry Competition. As such, the winning and runner-up entries; selections by the judge as well as other poems are included. The broad scope of ‘Interludes’, is evident. Those ‘in between’ times can be found in the city; suburbia, the quietness and engagement in the beauty and uniqueness of the natural world; in solitude’ in relationship; joy and suffering; with flora and fauna; in time and space; significant memories and experiences; memorable places and travel; in sickness and in health; music and art; in worship; and in…pause, just waiting.
Here then, is variety in subject matter and poetic forms, reinforced throughout by well chosen photographs and design and production of high quality. It is a pleasure to read, enjoy, reflect on these poems of our “in between’ times. The Anthology, in short, helps us to treasure the deep gift of these moments. To choose a ‘representative’ poem from the anthology is difficult. But, “The Inevitable Arrival of the Finch”, (Cameron Semmens), brings together much of what is evoked by these ‘in between’ times, such as – hope, joy, beauty, honesty, suffering, adversity, relief, longing, transience. Here are the closing lines,
so just be still
and joy will at some point
arrive at your side
with all your openness seeded with hope
This review was published in “Studio”, Number 146, 2019
Launch speech by Dr. Anne Elvey
things we know without naming: poems by Cathy Altmann
ISBN:978-0-6484451-0-4 – published by Poetica Christi Press 2018
There is a moment in Irish poet Seamus Heaney’s sequence ‘Station Island’ where a monk says to the pilgrim, ‘read poems as prayers’. In her poem, ‘Bread and Stone’, Cathy Altmann writes ‘I have been reading poetry/instead of praying’ (28), but as the poet herself hints this is a false dichotomy. Occasionally G-d enters the book explicitly as neither male nor female, perhaps both: read ‘Bread and Stone’ and ‘Graz’ alongside each other. But the divine name is not required here. Cathy’s poems themselves are a form of prayerful attention, and openness to the otherness that comes not only in alertness to the details and nuances of human –especially women’s – experience but also in the turn of an image, so that the reader/hearer is caught by surprise – a sudden recognition – when, to misquote the poet slightly, ‘[a poem] pushes its beak/into the marrow of a bone’ (28). One of my favourite poems that does just this is ‘Blood’, and I will say a little more about it later.
So many times as I read things we know without naming, I was delightedly awoken by startling turns of imagery. For a poet to achieve this, there needs to be a kind of trust in the unconscious. To achieve this with the craft evident in Cathy’s poems, there needs also to be an ear attuned to language and a commitment to the work of editing, of honing words and lines. What Garth Madsen and I wrote about Cathy’s earlier book, Circumnavigation, which won the Anne Elder Award for a first book of poetry, is true also of things we know without naming ‘These poems continually surprise the reader with their freshness. The style is crisp and spare, the imagery simple but powerful.’
The title of the book is ironic, because the act of writing poetry is to attempt to name, albeit at a slant, things we may know – or intuit – without naming. The title comes from the poem ‘Sediment’, which is deep with resonances of how the ‘uninvited’ insinuates itself and how we might lie down in it, yielding to its call, a call that turns out to be ‘calming’. The poem closes:
There are things we know
without naming. Down here,
we feel cockleshells coated
with mud. Sounds
arrive from far off and
move away again. We wait
for the tide. (24)
things we know without naming is dedicated to sisters and mothers, especially Cathy’s own mother and sister, and many of the poems deal with relations between sisters, between daughters and mothers, in ways that open up new tracks into the liveliness, tensions and griefs of familial relations. Cathy’s sharp eye for detail and recognition of the gendered, often sexist, underwriting of even the best domestic spaces, is evident in poems such as ‘Eyes’, ‘Blood’, ‘Sisters’, ‘Umber’, ‘Women like us’, ‘Summer’, ‘Mother’, and ‘Fabric’. These, and many others in Cathy’s book, remind me not only of the poignancy of relations where ‘What we said is vanishing’ and what remains is ‘just her eyes’, but also the barb in the familiar:
old thread of violence
never quite pulled tight,
the silver needle
lodged in the black. (36)
In this book, women are salt water, iron-tanged. ‘Blood’ takes us from birth, to primary school playground sexism and a kind of ‘girl power’, to the onset of menstruation, in a highly original way. In an Australian genealogy, I am reminded of Judith Wright’s ‘Woman to Man’ and ‘Woman to Child’, of Gwen Harwood’s ‘In the Park’, ‘Bone Scan’ and ‘Mother Who Gave Me Life’, not in style but for their resistance to expectation, their attention to detail, to women’s genealogies, and to a ‘mastery’ of the everyday as site of salient encounter, that I read for example in Cathy’s ‘Umber’. In a wider frame, I think of North American writers like Adrienne Rich, Mary Oliver, Sharon Olds and Jane Kenyon. Cathy herself mentions Louise Gluck in the epigraph to her poem of writerly vocation, ‘Track Notes’. Of the business of writing, Gluck writes:
When I’m quiet, that’s when the truth emerges.
(Louise Gluck, ‘The Untrustworthy Speaker’)
I am reminded of the way, Cathy’s poems also evoke moments of, and the need for, quiet contemplation and retreat. Gluck again:
I was constantly
face to face with blankness, that
stepchild of the sublime,
which, it turns out,
has been both my subject and my medium.
(Louise Gluck, ‘Afterword’)
In things we know without naming, Cathy herself does not appear to be face to face with blankness but with a kind of excess of experience that she hones into short spare lines with perfect line breaks to both stop us and carry us on. Let me read ‘Track notes’:
Leaving the quarrel with
your past behind, you
strike out squarely
across the cliff tops,
moving slowly in the
dusk but being certain,
at last, of the rightness
of your cause. You
catch up with those who
got ahead of you
and study the footage
together. Most of it is
archival. Lichen grows
on the rocks. The people
surge forward again,
boots crowding the dark.
When seagulls wheel
and scream, you look up
at the sunrise.
At midday you find love and make
the sun stop, strumming
the belly of your beloved
like a mandolin.
Crickets whirr, a currawong calls.
Your knees graze rocks;
there is sudden blood. People
walk around you. You crouch
cry or crawl. The beloved
is with you or not. Evening
comes. Sleeping on the
gravel, you hug your bruised
knees to yourself, bones thin
as a child’s.
In the morning,
there is sun on the grasses. They
glint with dew. You make
your way along the side
of a ridge, watching the shadows
track across the ground.
Many moons later, you are
on a promontory. Birds wheel
above. Your knees are broken.
You are far behind where
you started out. Someone
calls your name across
the water. (50–51)
This is a poem of evocation and vocation; in the previous poem, ‘Symphony’, I read of people wanting to hear a concert ‘hoping to begin all over again’ (49). In a sense this is what writing, the act and the reading of it, do: they speak into this hope to begin afresh.
Another thing in ‘Track notes’ is the way observation of the more-than-human world – currawong and crickets, sun and water, grasses and a human speaker – interweave and infuse the relational and vocational explorations. Other creatures are there not as symbols alone, but as lively presences interconnected with human ones.
Cathy’s poems have a restrained power. The potential energy in the poem ‘Sisters’ is poised to break forth into momentum. If ‘Blue plums’ could be read as riffing on William Carlos Williams’ ‘This is just to say’, it picks us up and sets us down somewhere else. Williams’ poem is a note left after eating plums someone else was saving for their breakfast. In Cathy’s ‘Blue plums’, and its reference to female bodies, there is a kind of trauma:
I want to slice into them
with broken china, reduce them
to an oily syrup
and scratch my fingernails
through, hiss at them
till they split their secrets,
squeeze milk from their
sallow breasts. I want to freeze
them and dismember them,
turn them to tar and seal
the road with them, break my
fists, cut my tongue.
Blue plums. (29)
This is the barb in the familiar that gives me the sense: that in her spare and beautiful poetry, the author is not the clichéd ‘nice girl’. These are poems to read and reread, to hear the embodied experience underlying the sharp imagery, the tragedy and the passions acknowledged, evoked, and restrained by language, ‘close as sinew’ (30). In this vein, ‘Honeymoon Island, Cradle Mountain’ is a stunning prose poem of sexual encounter.
Find here, too, wonderful works of imaginative storytelling alluding to ancient sites and myths, or writing contemporary fable. The prose poem ‘Fable’, in a European style reminding me of Alex Skovron, is a mature fairy tale. ‘Bell’, that follows it has elements of the ‘fey’. ‘The master bed’ is a domestic epic in seventeen lines. ‘Sparrows’ evokes biblical imagery, taking the reader deeper into questions of the worth of other creatures and our cohabitation with them. This book is beautiful, versatile, offering depths of insight into human experience in a world of shared habitat with many other creaturely kin. My congratulations to Cathy Altmann and her publisher, Poetica Christi Press.
Dr Anne Elvey
Maree Silver and Leigh Hay ( Eds)
Published by Poetica Christi Press 2017
ISBN : 978-0-9941640-7-0
Reviewed by Ian Keast
Edited by Maree Silver and Leigh Hay, this is the 2017 Anthology from Poetica Christi Press. “Wonderment” was the theme for their 2017 Poetry Competition and the Anthology contains the winning entries, as well as other selected poems. Like their other anthologies, the physical production and layout are outstanding, with accompanying pencil sketches by David Hay illustrating the text.
The Editors, in their Foreword, outline the scope of “Wonderment” :
Wonderment is astonishment, acknowledgement, curiosity, celebration, awe and admiration…Wonderment often catches us unawares…Wonderment never leaves us wanting. It fills our senses, satiates our spiritual hunger and quenches our longing thirst for beauty.
Wonderment can be found in the tiniest, the least attractive, the forgotten and forlorn. It’s often found in the garden of the neglected.
In this Anthology, poets have given expression to wonderment in a myriad of ways…,
be it in, for example, the natural world or music or relationships; above all the focus on, “the most excellent way,” of love- divine and human.
And the poets represented, (many of whom are contributors to Studio), capture the …moments when we see the wonder of God’s creation in the world around us…They observe what many often miss, divine glory revealed in the small things of life. ( Dr Peter Stiles, judge of the 2017 Competition.)
Two haiku – this from Florence Lisner, ( p58),
icing on the autumn tree
confection for the soul
and this one by Jean Sietzema-Dickson, ( p130),
lifts flaming tongues heavenward
provide a taste of this Anthology, (which offers a rich banquet), to satisfy your longing for wonderment. (Foreword).
Published by Poetica Christi Press 2017
ISBN : 978-0-9941640-6-3
Review by Ian Keast
“ I hope that…” “ We hope in…”
To possess and express hope is intrinsic to our being human. Our hope, whether as noun or verb, opens to broad and diverse landscape: sun-basking peaks to darkening valleys. We have hope in someone or something, be that in – relationship; an idea; a way of life; creation’s richness; a dream; a wish; an event; family; a place; a plan; the arts ; and so on…There is the ‘sure and certain’ hope of being in Christ through grace.
To be hope-full is to be marked by- anticipation; optimism; desire; expectation; aspiration…And, above all, a longing that whispers, (in C.S.Lewis’s words), that our real goal is elsewhere.
This Anthology contains poems that travel across this varying landscape. They are poems submitted to Poetica Christi’s Competition for 2016, Hope whispers. As in previous years, the winning poem, “ Eternity “ and the runner-up, “ Radicalised” , are included, as well as other entries. The Anthology not only contains the “ food “ for our travelling ; it looks good. The striking cover artwork by Nick Costello stirs the imagination; appropriate photographs are also part of the book’s layout.
Once again, Poetica Christi Press and the Editors, Janette Fernando and Maree Silver, are to be congratulated in producing this fine Anthology. Here are different poems in style and subject, infused with hope. Many resonated with this reviewer, but if I had to choose one which embodies many of the varying aspects of hope – place, time, feeling, ambience, echoes, longing, and so on, it is, “ Carillon, Sydney University, “ ( Kate O’Neil ), and these lines, especially, … marking time/ until the hour/ when sudden bells/ ring out resurrection./ Listen, wake, rise,/ feel jubilation,/ feel alive./ Ring bells, ring./ Renew. Revive./This is music for the world… With a quietness and gentleness, this poem, ( as do all the poems ), draws you in, invites you to read…to listen…to look up…and reflect…
Trumped by grace, Peter Stiles
Published by Poetica Christi Press, 2015
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)
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.’
Edited by Janette Fernando and Maree Silver
Published by Poetica Christi Press, 2016
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…”
Edited by Leigh Hay and Maree Silver
Published by Poetica Christi Press, 2015
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!
By Maree Silver
Published by Poetica Christi Press, 2015
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
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
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
In, A Year Later, the announcement is of remission:
In between is the journey with its sense of loss, described in this vivid image in Mastectomy,
“A tree in autumn
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
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
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 seasons, Sunny breaks, Flurries of hope, Silky 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.
Edited by Carolyn Vimpani
Published by Poetica Christi Press, 2014
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
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
Everyday Splendour – review by Paul Grover
Edited by Janette Fernando
Published by Poetica Christi Press, 2011
New Beginnings – review by Paul Grover
Edited by Janette Fernando
Published by Poetica Christi Press, 2010
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.
Edited by Janette Fernando
Publisher: Poetica Christi Press (2010)
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
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
Publisher: Poetica Christi Press, 2009
Trim size: 300 x 235 mm
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.