Tag Archives: Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke

Review of Stolen Moments

With a number of exciting publishing projects on the go – Brisbane New Voices IV, First Words vol. 2Same Sky by Cindy Keong, my new chapbook, I, land and Nathan Shepherdson’s fifth collection, the day the artists stood still (vol. 1) – it is great to see some of the Another Lost Shark Publications back catalogue getting some positive attention.

Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke has written a wonderful review of Stolen Moments by Andy White for the Queensland Poetry Festival site, and with their permission, I reprint it here:

stolenmoments_SandraDyasPhoto

Listen, Don’t Merely Hear: A review of Stolen Moments by Andy White
by Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke

There is beat, beatific beat, and rhythm in this book.  Its refrains sing of Brisbane; of Bono; of life shared on a planet where popular culture is a common language.  Andy White speaks a language of Now; mindful, though, as a good bluesman does, to pay its dues to Then:

ginsberg with a mandolin and a
strangely-stringed eastern instrument
in ginsberg beard and
ginsberg glasses
talking about iron john
bob dylan &
new york city in the fifties

“owl”

The 1950s matter to White, we feel its jazz in the way his lines swing and syncopate.  To quote from the conclusion of the same poem:

now once more
I can encounter
the super
realistic

“owl”

The poet is squeezing the very juice of the real, shaking it, mixing it, and serving it alive, and cool.

Foundations of popular culture all are on display.  Music: notably in a series of poems featuring pop culture icons.  Literature: with its casual paeans to the Beats and Bukowski.  And cinema, with two delightful poems about French films:

cut to the next day and a different old man in a sweaty t-shirt hangs
his enormous beer belly over the balcony, listening as the young french
woman moans in ecstasy, she’s busy making love in the apartment below.

he looks over to the chinese man. they nod. they sigh, both expressionless.
the music swells, the moaning increases. the scene fades to black.

“french film #1”

(Noting that this poem’s structure is not typical of the book; but its quietly sharp humour surely is.)

Yes, there is smarts, wit, contemporary cool to be had, but there is a depth of emotion, expressed in a pellucid way through image, that broadens and enriches the book:

we lost
the love we had

not left out
in the rain

but scorched in
summer sun

baked too long
under
convict sky

“convict sky”

White’s sky, his experience, is ours—it runs deeper than the sheen of culture into the eternal verities of love.  I am left with a feeling that White has done much living, and has come out of it into the Now not unscarred, but less willing to be naive:

time takes its
revenge and
who cares
who is
wise

“mall thoughts 2/3”

I will answer for myself White’s open question: he is; and he is part of a tradition of lyric poets that offer to us, give to us, gently wrought bon mots, that are easily digestible yet linger on the palate.  Check this book out: I’m glad I have.

Stolen Moments is now available from http://anotherlostshark.bigcartel.com/product/stolen-moments

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The riches of Australian poetry: five exciting releases from 2012

2012 was a year of riches, with some stunning Australian poetry collections released. Some of these books have not left my bedside, their words always circling. So before 2013 kicks into top speed, let me share with you a handful of books that would make fine companions to the books already on your shelves.

*****

asymmetry_avenuescover.qxdAidan ColemanAsymmetry

Asymmetry is a book that celebrates the exhilaration of language and life. Written in the year after Coleman had a stroke that left him without language and the full use of his body; the poems in Asymmetry provide ‘lightning flashes’ of insight into the poet’s healing process. I have read this collection cover to cover many times over and with each reading, comes a release of pure joy.

Here’s a link to an interview with Aidan, a review of the collection and where you can buy it.

***

Water MirrorsNicholas PowellWater Mirrors

Winner of the 2011 Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize, Powell’s words step lightly through the natural landscapes of Finland and Australia and the luminous landscapes of intimacy, desire and memory. Justin Clemens nails it when he describes the work as, ‘at once domestic and cosmic, these poems burgeon like ferns in the bitumen.’

Here’s a link to a review of the collection and to where you can buy it.

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Eye_to_EyeMatt HetheringtonEye to Eye

Here’s what I wrote for the back cover… says it all!

Hetherington’s writing has a spell-like quality, revealing gashes of pleasure in moments where you thought only darkness existed. it looks beyond truth into the deeper unknown, to turn the key on the ‘deadlocked heart’. Muscling toward the light, each poem creates its own clamouring music. This is a work of uninhibited force – a bloodletting of language.

Read a poem from the collection here and get in touch with Matt to pick up a copy.

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TWP-jpgJean KentTravelling with the wrong phrasebooks

I can’t say it better than Paul Summers, so here’s an excerpt from his review of the collection:

Jean Kent’s poetry is both gentle and powerful. It is tender and brutal, gossamer and robust, like ‘an argument with air’. The palette of her reference shifts effortlessly between continents, between epochs and psychologies, from Rilke to The Animals. She is a poet ‘swinging on the ropes of curiosity and hunger, gifting us distilled studies on belonging and separateness, on trauma & repair.

Here’s the link to the review and to where you can buy a copy.

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home{sic} front cover1Julie Beveridgehome{sic}

I will finish with a book that is very dear to my heart, yes, it’s one that I published. So I’ll hand over to Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke to capture the essence of the collection:

home{sic} is a book of journeys: we are taken to a number of places on the planet, to both Australian locations and North American ones.  Beveridge’s perceptive powers of observation are acute. These are travelogues with hard, sometimes jagged edges.  Yet these edges are leavened with a wisdom that resonates with deep psychological truths. As home{sic} reaches its climax on the other side of the Pacific, Beveridge invites us to be, if not defacto God parents for her as a 21st century Eve, then, in a secular sense, partakers of her future journeys with her to-be-born son.  This is an invitation proffered with rich humanity, and a powerful, overarching sense of the joy of life.

Here’s a link to the full review and to where you can buy a copy.

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“a 21st century Eve” – review by Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke

Home Is Where the Heartache Is (Small Change Press, 2007)
home{sic} (Another Lost Shark Publications, 2012)
by Julie Beveridge

Reviewed by Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke

For a limited time, all purchases of home{sic} from the Another Lost Shark Store will be shipped with a complimentary copy of Home is Where the Heartache is.


Stars are arguably best left to outer space, but if ten of them fell out of the sky, I would grab nine and a half of them to jointly rate Julie Beveridge’s first two books, Home Is Where the Heartache Is, and home{sic}.  I do it this way because Beveridge’s books are best considered together, as an oeuvre.  Taken in this way, their similarities, and their differences, both in terms of form, and of subject matter, identify her as a voice that is worth listening to, and following for the future.

I will first consider Home Is Where the Heartache Is, then home{sic}, then make some comments about the two taken together.

Home Is Where the Heartache Is is, yes, a dark, at times surreally nightmarish collection of haibun in ways that remind us of those Hieronymus Bosch canvasses:

This house was a steal.  The woman who owned it before me stabbed her
defacto to death and skinned him in the living room.

“Playing the Market”

Yes, Beveridge is, already, laughing: it’s confirmed as the poem continues:

… I remember watching it
on the news and thinking what a shame, that house has so much potential.

In the last poem in this collection, “Solitude: the end and the beginning” Beveridge makes overt what has been implicit all along: her at times oh so wry, dark humour:

sometimes I laugh despite myself,
from a place not so deep within me

Yet there is much more to this book than its humour, appealing though that is.  Beveridge is a 21st century woman, aware that in Australian society of this century there is violence, and you don’t have to scratch too deep to find it.  She acknowledges the truth that most of the victims aren’t male defactos skinned in living rooms, no, they are women, and so often there’s a sexual basis for that violence.  In the title poem, “Home is where the Heartache is:”

She is worth an exploded eye socket and nine dissolvable stitches.

Yes, it is easy to dispassionately admire the vivid description – the woman is there photographically caught before us in all her battered woundedness – but Beveridge challenges us to go deep into the sexual politics, ask ourselves “why.”

There are cigarettes, wine, joints and more to be found within these pages, but it is almost as if they are the props, the enablers, not the underlying reasons for the events depicted.  What are those reasons?  Beveridge sketches, alludes, never falls into didacticism, always prompts us to think.  And always – I return to this – with sharp, questioning humour.  In “Cold Hands Touch My Face,” which recounts an abduction by car by a man wearing mirrored sunglasses:

behind the shades
a murder
of crows feet

Violence, including rape and murder, happens in our society right now.  Beveridge is unflinching in her exploration of it.  Her take is a feminist one, but one that, as a man, I feel included in: the problem is mine as well as hers.  This book is thought-provoking, and in being so, is deeply satisfying.

home{sic} is a book of journeys: we are taken to a number of places on the planet, to both Australian locations and North American ones.  Beveridge’s perceptive powers of observation are acute:

whether I climb or fall
nothing is as patient as these cliffs

“van diemen’s land”

your men hold their cameras like cocks

“song for san francisco”

These are travelogues with hard, sometimes jagged edges.  Yet these edges are leavened with a wisdom that resonates with deep psychological truths:

the longer
you spend
with yourself
the less
alone you
will feel

“a handful of consistencies”

This is part admonition, part acceptance.  Beveridge knows aloneness, and shares her introspective insights on it, but she also knows what it is like to intimately be with another, in all its aspects, from small talk in an airport departure lounge to being:

a factory for future men

“meat and bread”

as she so drily terms being pregnant with her son.  So it is that her intimacies, shared with us, become ours too; we are happy for her, and with her, that she has the peppered roast pork sandwich; her pregnancy cravings,

with 18 weeks before it all truly
ignites

“canada day”

are ours to experience with her.  It is almost as if Beveridge, as home{sic} reaches its climax on the other side of the Pacific, is inviting us to be, if not defacto God parents for her as a 21st century Eve, then, in a secular sense, partakers of her future journeys with her to-be-born son.  This is an invitation proffered with rich humanity, and a powerful, overarching sense of the joy of life.

It is instructive, I feel, to consider Home Is Where the Heart Is and home{sic} together, and as the first two instalments in an oeuvre which surely will continue to unfold over the years ahead.

From the artful haibun of Home Is Where the Heart Is, home{sic} sees Beveridge further exercising her technical virtuosity; in it she uses a number of different forms, from poems in couplets to prose poems.  Often her forms in home{sic} are unpunctuated, the earlier volume’s prose passages are generally traditionally punctuated, but what both books share is a use of ambiguity, often for ironic, and humorous, purposes.

Upon a first three or four readings of each volume, I leant slightly towards preferring Home Is Where the Heart Is, but by the time I had read each volume half a dozen times, the similarities, above and beyond even the ambiguities, below the surface differences in form, were becoming increasingly apparent.

The first book, eschewing all the implicit sexual politics of violence it contains, is in a sense about aloneness, and the struggle to make sense of a too often contrary world.  In home{sic} by contrast, the poet’s persona is with another, yet, on a deeper level, the world is equally vividly strange.

The first volume is overtly about interior worlds.  Beveridge’s second book, upon reflection, under the at times sensuously written travelogues, is also.  Whether it be that meat and bread sandwich, or

mozzarella dripping from my tongue

“song for san francisco”

we taste as well the graphic psychological truth that

homesickness is not a metaphor

“a handful of consistencies”

and it tastes piquant, awkward – it cannot be easily pigeonholed – and ultimately undeniably real.

It is reality in the truest sense that these two books jointly explore.  There are many strange things that comprise our world, too many to easily make sense of.  Beveridge’s poetry becomes her torch; shining light on some of that strangeness, and her light oft-times makes the strange familiar, and the familiar strange.  In so doing, she challenges us to look into the very heart of strangeness.  And if we do that, perhaps, if we are honest enough to accept her truths, we see mirrors, reflecting back who we are inside.

**********

Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke had his first poem published in 1966 when he was seven years old in the mass circulation Australian newspaper The Sun.  Michael’s first poetry hero was John Keats, after he read as a teenager a biography of the English Romantic poet.

At Monash University, from 1977 to 1980, while studying successfully for a Bachelor of Economics degree, he hung out in a part of the library where hardly anyone went, devouring poetry books, and Michael Dransfield became his favourite poet.

To this day, notwithstanding he now has many other favourites, Dransfield’s “to be a poet in Australia is the ultimate commitment” remains seminal.  Since university, Michael has made a point of reading poetry, often in translation, from as many poets the world over as he can.

Michael now lives in Townsville, enjoying the north Queensland tropical sunshine.  He is a valued member of Writers In Townsville Society, whose website is: http://witsnq.blogspot.com/.

If Michael could have one wish, for anything in life, he would give the wish away.

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