REVIEWS

REVIEW OF TRANSFORMATION – 2022 ANTHOLOGY

REVIEW OF SURPRISED BY JACK

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

poeticachristi.org.au

ISBN : 978-0-6482488-5-9

Reviewed by Ian Keast

Morning Haiku

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

                                                        to knock

                                                                      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,

Garden morning,

                           “…Gardener of all life

                                               he who first woke buds

                                               woven from the fabric of the sky

                                               watered with earth’s wells

                              gently greets

                              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

ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

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
causing                   distortion
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
berserk                                       demented
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
Title: Interludes
Publisher: Poetica Christi Press, 2018, 137 pages
ISBN: 9780994164094
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

poeticachristi.org.au

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 word

 multi-dimensional

 many faceted

 a life-time of resonances

 love.

( “ 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

poeticachristi.org.au

 ISBN: 978-0-6484451-0-4

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

Interludes

Edited by Janette Fernando and Maree Silver

Poetica Christi Press 2018

www.poeticachristi.org.au

ISBN: 978-0-9941640-9-4

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