This is a distinctive and unsettling voice, one that doesn’t have time for overly polite concessions to our finer feelings. You either keep pace (and it’s compelling) or stand aside as the spadework gets done. Reading this poetry, we are involved in an unearthing of past events and made witness to the laying bare of personal response. But there’s nothing self-indulgent or hollow about Gig Ryan’s disinterment. The poetry has a sometimes shocking immediacy, a curious mixture of fierceness and vulnerability that conveys feeling with integrity.... (read more)
Gig Ryan reviews 'Starlight' by John Tranter and 'The Salt Companion to John Tranter' edited by Rod Mengham
John Tranter has published more than twenty books since 1970. They include long dramatic monologues, a type of verse novel (The Floor of Heaven, 1992), prose poems and traditional verse forms. Starlight, his new collection, continues his ‘evisceration’, as he calls it, of other poets.... (read more)
Two birds scoop white sky
into the lank pines behind your stone
as if to say we’re with you.
In front the road crofts and peaks.
You can’t pinpoint the sector
but it was adamantine
like your knowing to pull out ...
Jennifer Maiden’s first books, Tactics (1974) and The Problem of Evil (1975), introduced a fantastically complex and enquiring poetry, with strangely fragmentary assemblages of character wrought from conflict. Both books were partly inspired by television’s gory nightly footage of the Vietnam War ...... (read more)
There’s plenty to crack onto, he says, a laundered Valkyrie stomps the DIY:
I reconstitute in the shed, my notes can hit the rafters,
no-one’s selfing over it, like upstairs
on their asbestos balustrade,
a tick-off at the slightest, though their kid
chatters and bounces on the planks.
At last summer rises on a blue cactus.
Without, it’s crumpled outside ...
As her to you, unhurried,
pair formations addle a skyline,
extrovert welcoming traffic, selfless despot on the inner.
Even so, his pin-cushioned face glues to the backdrop’s nest of wombats.
The city changes from one skyscraper and slate
to the creek’s bag-junked ripple,
decisive formaldehyde splitting a cloud’s anagram of discontent,
replacing slouched ...
(Idyll II, Theocritus)
Where are my bay leaves and charms, my bowl with crimson flowers
while him inexorable
has gone from my bed like a dress
Distance: spells of fire wreathe you
Shine on this spin or grave
As sight stunned me
Wheel of brass turning from my door
Now wave is still and ...
You long for night to push away injunctions and sodalities,
sky’s hexagon clouds,
as veins lined with velvet straighten the road and undone casket
and morning’s birds click through dream.
Rest your eyes on the road like an inn,
bundled rubbish a corpse on the nature-strip.
You take the waters.
You embrace a door.
Snaked fields welter through molecu ...
I remember you as you were, polished and dismissive
now sawdust and spangles lie on cedar.
‘Insufficient funds’ responds to my favoured transaction
at the checkout’s dystopia, a green-haired maenad slices the machine.
You saw in the eyes the future going awa ...
Gig Ryan’s last book was New and Selected Poems (Giramondo, 2011), published in the United Kingdom as Selected Poems (Bloodaxe, 2012). Manners of an Astronaut (Hale & Iremonger, 1984) was re-issued by Shearsman Books, UK, in 2018. She was Poetry Editor of The Age from 1998 to 2016. Her work first appeared ...