Giramondo, $22 pb, 70 pp
In Lisa Gorton’s first collection of poetry, somewhat ambiguously entitled Press Release, light, absence and doubt are major preoccupations. The poems speak of ‘a weight of light’, ‘neon expectation’, ‘ruined cities overrun with light’ and ‘all that falling light’ – in just the first of this volume’s four sections. Light, for Gorton, is a sometimes mesmerising and often overwhelming force. Among other things, it is the illumination of nostalgia, the halo of memory and the shining-out of presence. Interestingly, it is also about culmination, often standing for various forms of – usually problematic – realisation and achievement. For example, in ‘Scald’, the poem’s persona speaks of ‘light drawn in to the idea of light, all-eye and all / forgetting, more entire than perfection’; and in ‘Guns I / Major Mitchell, 1836:’ wild birds ‘are tearing the blueblack / shadows out of the river’, as if light and life are joined in defying the ruination of death and the depredations of time. But in Gorton’s poetry light never fully escapes the dark, and in ‘Scald’ the ‘sheer of light’ is also a ‘shining blank’, while the poem’s speaker represents herself as a ‘bright / dark torso’, images in which absence, darkness and light are inextricably connected.