B.R. Dionysius: 'weranga'
Weranga is B.R. Dionysius’ eighth poetry collection
“Brett Dionysius has established himself as a poet whose attention to craft and the variousness of a line’s potential music sets him apart from many poets of his generation. With Weranga, a sequence of sixty seven sonnets , he has employed these hard-won skills to great effect. Lyrical, accessible and layered with his trademark ability to bring new life to common ground. This is a wonderful collection celebrating rural life in Australia in the 1970′s and 80′s.”
Seen purely in terms of its content, its representation rural life, Weranga is a memorable book. In style it is the opposite of a realistic novel’s detailed but dry portrayal of rural upbringing using the full extent of the wide imaginative range that poetry can deploy as well as the capacities of a sonnet sequence to interweave motifs. There is also a marked difference in the authorial perspective: the early poems are full of a young boy’s immersion in the experience but in the later poems there is the more elegiac perspective of the adult who – now a father himself – comes back to revisit the places of his childhood. And the experiences of the author as a child are full of the conflict between a sensitive boy (“a soft boy who trained hard in the art of gentleness”) and a pretty tough environment. The early poems recreate a number of the mild traumas of sensitivity: night terrors, a fear of being asphyxiated in a dream of passing through a huge hour-glass and a fear of being left alone at night that persists even when he is of an age for his parents to drive into Toowoomba for a fortnightly dose of late-night shopping and leave him in charge of the chickens and the house. At the same time this is a place of brown snakes, trapdoor spiders, viciously territorial tomcats and thuggish children as well as those endemic threats of drought and flood which have always been part of the Australian rural tradition.
Review by Dr Martin Duwell, at Australian Poetry Review [December 2013]