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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 ‘The Asking: New and Selected Poems’ by Jane Hirshfield

June 2024, no. 465 27 May 2024
Jane Hirshfield writes a poem on the first day of each year. ‘Counting, New Year’s Morning, What Powers Yet Remain to Me’ is one of the new poems in The Asking, along with poems selected from nine collections published since 1982. It begins with a question the world asks (‘as it asks daily’): ‘And what can you make, can you do, to change my deep-broken, fractured?’ Outside the windo ... (read more)

Felicity Plunkett reviews ‘Deep Water: The world in the ocean’ by James Bradley

May 2024, no. 464 22 April 2024
On the surface, this encyclopedic work offers a gloriously lyrical exploration of the sea. It could be part of a recent shoal of books about the more-than-human world, limning the wondrous and astonishing. In Deep Water: The world in the ocean, whales learn rhyme-like patterns to remember their songs, a ‘babel of strange, eerie sounds: skittering blips, long cries, whoops and basso moans’. A l ... (read more)

Felicity Plunkett reviews 'The Conversion' by Amanda Lohrey

November 2023, no. 459 26 October 2023
Transformation is one thing. Conversion is another. With its Latin roots con (with or together) and vertere (to turn or bend), conversion is haunted by a sense of coercion, the imposition of one will over another. In Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway, conversion comes in the form of Clarissa Dalloway’s daughter’s evangelistic tutor, Doris Kilman, the violence of colonialism, and brutish attempts ... (read more)

Felicity Plunkett reviews 'Home Truth' edited by Carmel Bird

July–August 2010, no. 323 01 July 2010
We are often far / From home in a dark town’ writes Charlie Smith in his poem ‘The Meaning of Birds’. Home Truth explores dark towns both literal and figurative. The pieces in any anthology are jigsaw-like, forming an overarching image. In this case, it is a sense of home as an entity most powerfully felt in exile; the place we look to from our darkest places. In her perceptive essay, Carmel ... (read more)

Felicity Plunkett reviews 'Spore or Seed' by Caitlin Maling and 'Increments of the Everyday' by Rose Lucas

July 2023, no. 455 27 June 2023
Sharon Olds, author of twelve poetry collections including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Stag’s Leap, has said that when she wrote about motherhood forty years ago, she was advised by editors (‘very snooty, very put-me-down’) to try Ladies Home Journal. For Olds, now celebrated as a bold poet of the body, there is some Schadenfreude in the anecdote, like Bob Dylan’s in ‘Talkin’ New York ... (read more)

Felicity Plunkett reviews three new poetry collections

May 2023, no. 453 26 April 2023
A six-year-old in Canada memorises a poem written by Li Bai in the eighth century. She recites its twenty syllables perfectly in the Mandarin she studies at Saturday Chinese school, but beyond a mechanical conversion into English, makes little sense of it. Murmuring the poem’s words then holding her breath as though waiting, her mother tries to help. Decades later, Gillian Sze realises her moth ... (read more)

Felicity Plunkett reviews 'Iris' by Fiona Kelly McGregor

December 2022, no. 449 25 November 2022
The accordion, or squeezebox, takes its name from the German Akkordeon, meaning a ‘musical chorus’ or ‘chorus of sounds’. This box-shaped aerophonic instrument makes music when keys on its sides are pressed, one side mostly melody, the other chords. Squeezing the instrument and playing with both hands, the musician dexterously produces polyphonous music. Iris Webber, the protagonist of Fi ... (read more)

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

January–February 2022, no. 439 22 December 2021
‘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
‘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)
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