Kris Hemensley: a review of ‘Your Scratch Entourage’ by Rebecca Law

Rebecca Law reviews Kris Hemensley’s 2016 poetry collection, ‘Your Scratch Entourage’, in a recent addition to ‘Communion Arts Journal # 14’.

Perhaps we begin with Ted Hughes and “The Thought Fox”; and then take that starless night, the steady assured tread of “something … alive” and “more near/ …/ the loneliness” – a foxes paws across snow, the “neat” but inevitably sooty footprints left behind “now/ and again now, and now, and now” – to read again, the brilliance of the darkness that is poetry.

For more,  visit ‘Communion Arts Journal’.

Review: Vanessa Page’s ‘Tourniquet’, by Jena Woodhouse

Jena Woodhouse at ‘foam:e

The heartland of Tourniquet lies in the haunted, haunting terrain of its unsettled and unsettling topographies, including the body. As unsparing and unflinching in her gaze as the outback light, Vanessa Page has a sure grasp of her subjects and the poetic forms that can best accommodate them. In bringing a female gaze and sensibility to bear on the badlands and wastelands of personal relationships and landscapes, especially the marginal terrain of small, isolated settlements, and in seeking out the redemptive possibilities of reconnecting with body and spirit in physical encounters with country, she has generated some powerful poetry.

[Purchase ‘Tourniquet’]

Stephanie Conn in ‘Banshee’: the poem ‘Family Line’

It brings back fond memories to Tasmanians appreciative of poetry to read new work by Northern Ireland poet Stephanie Conn in Irish literary journal Banshee.

Stephanie was a guest in October 2017 of the Tasmanian Poetry Festival, coinciding with a visit to her sister-in-law who lives in the north of the island.

Since then she’s been busy with a new collection, published by Doire Press (Ireland) early in 2018 and entitled ‘Island’ (taking its inspiration from Stephanie’s ancestors, farmers and fishermen and women on Copeland Island off the County Down coast); John Foggin (6th Jan 2019) traces an appreciative appraisal of her work on his blog The Great Fogginzo’s Cobweb here. Also check out Northern Vision’s vimeo production Novel Ideas.

Stick in a thumb and pull out a plum: Poetry and Consumption … Plumwood Mountain Vol 5 No 1 is live

A new issue of Plumwood Mountain, self-described as ‘An Australian Journal of Ecopoetry and Ecopoetics’, is now live with 31 poems guest edited by Michael Farrell on the theme ‘Poetry and Consumption’, a bumper set of 20 book reviews, an essay on Amitav Ghosh by Jennifer Mackenzie and the section ‘Poets speak up to Adani’.

Plenty to sink your teeth into here, opening with Michael Farrell’s challenging introduction entitled ‘Poetry and Consumption’. (Challenging? Perhaps ‘polished outrage’ is a more appropriate descriptor, where outrage isn’t necessarily obvious – Michael’s wording is considered, erudite –  but I imagine there’s a causal connection).

There is a philosophical, and practical, movement known as “voluntary simplicity” which cuts down on consumption through living more simply and sparely. This notion, of “voluntary simplicity”, challenges the usefulness of the term “sustainability” which, in its function as a buzzword, encourages consumption. Many poets live a life of involuntary simplicity, at least relative to their earning peers. But how do we think this through in poetry, poetics? The spare lyric may appeal to some, but do we all want to write like every word that comes out of our world-destroying laptops is precious, and should be scratched on a bone in a field and praised in the New York Times? (if you count sales as praise). It sounds like a recipe for kitsch: the opposite of necessary (unless you’re a kitsch fetishist). The earth is not spare. Fire, for one thing, is more baroque.

Anne M Carson’s review of Marietta Elliott-Kleerkoper’s popped out at me as worth the read, as did Daniela Brozek Cordier’s review of Kristen Lang’s SkinNotes, Brianna Bullen’s review of Petra White’s Reading for a Quiet Morning; and the section ‘Poets Speak Up to Adani’, (poems were posted as part of an online day of action at Plumwood Mountain journal on 30 October 2017 and include Judith Rodriquez, Jennifer Harrison, Anthony Lawrence, Jill Jones, Susan Hawthorne, Jennifer Maiden. Judith Beveridge, Alex Skovron, Kevin Brophy, Robert Adamson, John Kinsella and many, many more).

Visit the journal at Plumwood Mountain Volume 5 Number 1

The cult of the noble amateur

Rebecca Watts, PN Review 239, Volume 44 Number 3, January – February 2018

What good is a flourishing poetry market, if what we read in poetry books renders us more confused, less appreciative of nuance, less able to engage with ideas, more indignant about the things that annoy us, and more resentful of others who appear to be different from us? The ability to draw a crowd, attract an audience or assemble a mob does not itself render a thing intrinsically good: witness Donald Trump. Like the new president, the new poets are products of a cult of personality, which demands from its heroes only that they be ‘honest’ and ‘accessible’, where honesty is defined as the constant expression of what one feels, and accessibility means the complete rejection of complexity, subtlety, eloquence and the aspiration to do anything well.

More at PN Review 239 HERE

Pete Hay reviews Rachael Mead and Amanda Joy

… below the hard packed earth
the dead slowly get on with their dark work
of sifting themselves back
into the green world.

I read those lines and straightened my back – I’d just experienced one of those rare ‘I wish I’d written that’ moments. This is a fine small collection, then, one that does the chapbook format proud – tightly themed, resonant and democratically accessible.

………………………….

Read Pete Hay’s review at Cordite, 16th January 2018