Felicity Plunkett

Felicity Plunkett

Felicity Plunkett is a poet and critic. Her latest work, A Kinder Sea, is published by UQP. Her first collection of poetry Vanishing Point (UQP, 2009) won the Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Prize and was shortlisted for several other awards. She has a chapbook Seastrands (2011) in Vagabond Press’ Rare Objects series. Felicity was Poetry Editor for University of Queensland Press and edited Thirty Australian Poets (UQP, 2011). She has a PhD from the University of Sydney and her reviews and essays have been widely published in The Australian, Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Book Review, Sydney Review of Books etc. Her essay ‘Sound Bridge’, a portrait of Indigenous Australian musician Dr G. Yunupingu, was first published in Australian Book Review and anthologised in Best Australian Essays 2015 (Black Inc, ed. Geordie Williamson).

Felicity Plunkett reviews 'Such Color: New and selected poems' by Tracy K. Smith

January–February 2022, no. 439 22 December 2021
Felicity Plunkett reviews 'Such Color: New and selected poems' by Tracy K. Smith
‘The wave always returns’, writes Marina Tsvetaeva. And it ‘always returns as a different wave’. Such Color reveals such a relentless renewal of lyricism as a signature of Tracy K. Smith’s poetry. A selected edition promises to highlight images and ideas across the American poet’s work. For Smith, one constant is the movement of water. In ‘Minister of Saudade’, from her second ... (read more)

Felicity Plunkett reviews 'On Freedom: Four songs of care and constraint' by Maggie Nelson

October 2021, no. 436 22 September 2021
Felicity Plunkett reviews 'On Freedom: Four songs of care and constraint' by Maggie Nelson
‘I just want you to feel free, I said in anger disguised as compassion, compassion disguised as anger.’ These are Maggie Nelson’s words to her partner, artist Harry Dodge, as the two negotiate the shapes of love, family, and gender. These include Harry’s gender fluidity (‘I’m not on my way anywhere, Harry sometimes tells inquirers’), children, and marriage, which they ‘kill ... (un ... (read more)

Felicity Plunkett reviews 'Summer' by Ali Smith

October 2020, no. 425 14 September 2020
Felicity Plunkett reviews 'Summer' by Ali Smith
I could begin with a lark stitched into a letter. It’s 2020 and ‘all manner of virulent things’ are simmering. Sixteen-year-old Sacha writes to Hero, a detained refugee. She wants to send ‘an open horizon’. Unsure what to say to someone suffering injustice, she writes about swifts: how far they travel, how they feed – and even sleep – on the wing. The way their presence announces the ... (read more)

Felicity Plunkett reviews 'The Salt Madonna' by Catherine Noske

March 2020, no. 419 24 February 2020
Felicity Plunkett reviews 'The Salt Madonna' by Catherine Noske
From the mainland, the fictional Chesil Island appears to float on the horizon. Perched above its bay, a statue of the Virgin Mary spreads its arms, its robes ‘faded and splintered by salt’. This icon of the miraculous and maternal, crafted from trees and symbolic of the invasion and settlement of Indigenous land, is imposing and worn, revered and neglected. The sometimes-narrator of Catherin ... (read more)

Felicity Plunkett reviews 'The Weekend' by Charlotte Wood

November 2019, no. 416 23 October 2019
Felicity Plunkett reviews 'The Weekend' by Charlotte Wood
‘What kind of game is the sea?’ asks the speaker of Tracy K. Smith’s poem ‘Minister of Saudade’. ‘Lap and drag’, comes the response, ‘Crag and gleam / That continual work of wave / And tide’. It is not until the end of The Weekend that the sea’s majestic game is brought into focus, and then the natural world rises, a riposte, to eclipse human trivia. Before this, Charlotte Woo ... (read more)

‘A mutinous and ferocious grace: Nick Cave and trauma’s aftermath' by Felicity Plunkett

June–July 2019, no. 412 23 May 2019
‘A mutinous and ferocious grace: Nick Cave and trauma’s aftermath' by Felicity Plunkett
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds perform at Open’er Festival on 4 July 2018 in Gdynia, Poland (Ewa Burdynska-Michnam, East News sp. z o.o. Alamy Stock Photo) It begins with a projected haze of ocean horizon. In this blurry liminal space, silence is misted with anticipation, like the moment before an echo comes back empty, right across the sea. Then a close-up of multi-instrumentalist Warren Ellis ... (read more)

Felicity Plunkett reviews 'Dangerous Ideas about Mothers' edited by Camilla Nelson and Rachel Robertson

December 2018, no. 407 26 November 2018
Felicity Plunkett reviews 'Dangerous Ideas about Mothers' edited by Camilla Nelson and Rachel Robertson
An essay at the heart of this collection, ‘Against Motherhood Memoirs’ by Maria Tumarkin, is not as insistent as its title suggests. Tumarkin, interested in ‘fissures and de-fusion’, troubles the awkward spots in her analysis. While reading Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts (2015) – which places ‘motherhood and queerness side by side’ with autotheory and what Nelson calls ‘post-shame ... (read more)

Felicity Plunkett reviews 'On J.M. Coetzee' by Ceridwen Dovey

November 2018, no. 406 15 October 2018
Felicity Plunkett reviews 'On J.M. Coetzee' by Ceridwen Dovey
‘We think back through our mothers,’ writes Virginia Woolf (twice) in A Room of One’s Own. At first, she seems to be suggesting that women artists can only derive inspiration from women who precede them: ‘It is useless to go to the great men writers for help … the weight, the pace, the stride of a man’s mind are too unlike her own.’ But Woolf’s bravura rhetorical essay (she calls ... (read more)

Felicity Plunkett reviews 'No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison' by Behrouz Boochani

October 2018, no. 405 27 August 2018
Felicity Plunkett reviews 'No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison' by Behrouz Boochani
Behrouz Boochani describes being smashed into the sea by the boulder-like weight of an overpacked, splintering boat transporting asylum seekers from Indonesia to Australia. The wreck’s ‘slashed carcass’ gashes the flailing survivors and the bodies of those who have died, and Boochani settles under a wave, finding refuge ‘by imagining myself elsewhere’. Finding the strength to surface, he ... (read more)

Felicity Plunkett reviews 'The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume 1: 1940-1956' edited by Peter K. Steinberg and Karen V. Kukil

April 2018, no. 400 26 March 2018
Felicity Plunkett reviews 'The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume 1: 1940-1956' edited by Peter K. Steinberg and Karen V. Kukil
‘A letter always seemed to me like immortality because it is the mind alone without corporeal friend,’ wrote Emily Dickinson. Yet part of the lure of letters – and life writing generally – is a sense of the corporeal, the promise of discovering the writer herself. As Jacqueline Rose suggests, writing about biography and Sylvia Plath in the London Review of Books, it is tempting to imagine ... (read more)
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