Maria Takolander

Maria Takolander’s fourth book of poetry, Trigger Warning (University of Queensland Press, $24.99 pb, 100 pp), is a sharp and arresting collection, fierce in its emotions and determination to make language do the hard work of speaking that which hovers at the edge of articulation. This is a poetics that traces everywhere the lurking presence of the disruptive – in domestic life, in global crises, even in our most intimate experiences. Takolander’s courageous poetry becomes both a landscape in which to inscribe what is unbearable and a sphere in which it might be, at least partially, managed.

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Our final 'Poem of the Week' for 2015 is 'Déjà vu' by Maria Takolander. ABR's Poetry Editor, Lisa Gorton, introduces Maria who discusses and reads her poem. ... (read more)

Iphigenia among the Taurians by Euripides (translated by Anne Carson)

by
May 2015, no. 371

Creativity is always an exercise in recycling. Vision comes from revision. In the ancient world, such wisdom was institutionalised; the task of the poet was to powerfully exploit a cultural storehouse of existing plots. Thus the early Greek playwrights reworked the same complex of myths. However, stories are inexhaustible, something that Scheherazade, in another anc ...

In the spirit of our annual ‘Books of the Year’ feature, in which we ask a range of writers and critics to nominate their favourite new fiction and non-fiction titles, we asked ten Australian short story writers to nominate their favourite short story collections and individual stories. As this is the first time we have run a short-story themed feature of this nature, our ten writers were free to nominate older titles if they wished to do so. Our only request was that at least one of their selections should have been published recently and that at least one be by an Australian author.

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What makes a story compelling? When I was an undergraduate student at Deakin University, I was fortunate enough to be instructed in fiction writing by Gerald Murnane. His key criterion for the worth of a story was its capacity to mark his memory with an enduring image. Over time he used to cull books from his shelves that failed to impress him in this way.

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Imagine a cross between Tim Winton’s The Turning and Kenneth Cook’s Wake in Fright, and you might very well imagine John Kinsella’s latest collection of fiction, Tide. Kinsella, a Western Australian like Winton, writes of the coast and of the desert, of small-town life and small-town people. However, Kinsella highlights the corruption of those landscapes and people in a way that aligns his vision more with Cook’s (which should come as no surprise, given Kinsella’s anti-pastoral poetry). There are ships pumping ‘alkaline hell’ into the waters where children swim, meatworks leaking blood to the sharks, factories, mines, old batteries, and trenches. Men are ‘brutal and brutalising’. Even boys torment and humiliate one another, often with the approval or complicity of their guardians. If someone outside Australia wanted to understand a country that hounded its first female prime minister out of office and voted in Tony Abbott on a platform against boat people and the carbon tax, this is the book I would recommend.

 

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The
legendary discovery by Sigismund Freud
(also known as Golden Sigi)
and
no other
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John Leonard’s anthology of young Australian poets, showcasing the work of an exclusive septet, comes hot on the heels of Felicity Plunkett’s more accommodating Thirty Australian Poets (reviewed by Fiona Wright in the December 2011–January 2012 issue of ABR). Young Poets: An Australian Anthology ...

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Let us take a look at this place. Marshlands. All the way to the horizon. The land drained, but nevertheless sinking. Sinking into nothing, nothing but itself. Frogs volleying noise in the grass unseen. The hazy movement of mosquitoes low to the ground. On a blade of swamp grass a sleek cricket. Blacker than night and – look closely – its antennae twitching. Just think: there must be more of those creatures, in their thousands, perhaps millions, hiding in the swamp grass as far as your eye can see.

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Robyn Rowland writes what could be described as a traditionally feminine, aestheticised mode of lyric poetry. Rowland’s poetic landscape is one that shimmers with moonlight, in which one finds cherry blossom and exotic fruit, waterfalls and peacocks, and sensuality (if not sex), and in which the language is always pleasing. Perhaps it is my cultural background – coming from a dour nation of Finns – or the fact that I am a formworker’s daughter, but this world is not familiar to me. Indeed, it seems to belong to a particular tradition of lyric poetry, rather than to any reality. Nevertheless, there is honesty and poignancy in Rowland’s New and Selected Poems, which speak of lost relationships, childbirth, illness, the death of loved ones, and the various individuals and historical events that inspired her interest or hope.

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