Kristin Hannaford, 'CURIO'

Kristin Hannaford: 'CURIO'

CURIO invites readers into a world of artefacts, curiosities and natural history specimens, as poet Kristin Hannaford pays homage to the history of women working as taxidermists, naturalists, and exhibitors in 19th Century Australia. This poetry collection profiles the lives of two extraordinary women in Australia’s colonial history, Jane Catharine Tost and her daughter Ada Jane Rohu, who established and ran ‘Tost and Rohu’ – a taxidermy and curio shop known affectionately at the time as ‘The Queerest Shop in Sydney’.

“Jane Catharine Tost and Ada Jane Rohu’s legacy is brought to life through the deft hand of Hannaford whose narration fluctuates between the voice of a ringmaster, nature documentary reporter whispering in the bush at night, librarian detailing references and scientist describing method. Hannaford slips into the skin of her protagonists to speak to us of craft and aesthetics with poignancy.

“In many ways opening this collection is like opening a door to an intriguing salon full of spectacle and tragedy where birds and marsupials are re-encountered as specimens wired in the fashion of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Hannaford’s poems sing with the tangible presence of an arranging hand, the rules of scientific display and the taxidermist’s precise and meticulous work. The collection is an act of salvage and resurrection, a remembrance for two extraordinary women and their life’s work. Open CURIO on any page and you will forget where you are and get hooked on reading it again and again.”

               JAYNE FENTON KEANE