Jaya Savige

Change Machine is an exceptionally strong third collection. To the extent that a schematic of thesis–antithesis– synthesis applies to poets’ books, this one both exceeds and incorporates the work that came before. Intriguingly, the title poem seems a late addition, citing the pandemic in three clipped lines, borne on the shoulders of two innocuous words, should and but:

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In thrall to thresholds, drawn to every brink,
            at three weeks old
an infant’s eye adores the frames of things,
            the joinery that holds
each smudge in place, and individuates.

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Sarah Holland-BattSarah Holland-Batt is the author of two award-winning books of poetry, Aria

Jaya Savige’s first book, latecomers (2005), was an impressive début and won the New South Wales Kenneth Slessor Award for Poetry in 2006. Surface to Air is a more varied, equally impressive, volume. Savige meditates on the poet Tasso’s oak tree (inspired by Peter Porter’s ‘Tasso’s Oak’), a survivor of Hiroshima, the Big Brother television show, and, as this book’s epigraph by W.S. Merwin might predict, the loss of an uncontaminated natural world, or Eden: ‘kneel by the sky-blue bic that nests / in the shallow bowels of an albatross carcass’ (‘Recycling Night’).

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In 1938, the year of Australia’s sesquicentennial celebrations, trade unionist William Ferguson and former boxer John Patten helped to organise the first Aboriginal Day of Mourning and Protest on January 26; later that year, they co-wrote the pamphlet from which the above excerpt is taken, on behalf of the nascent Aborigines Progressive Association ...

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Critics often comment on the ‘shape’ a poem makes – not the concrete form of the words on the page, but the poem’s conceptual trajectory, the statement, development and resolution (or lack thereof) of its central theme. What is most striking about Robert Adamson’s first collection of poems published in North America, The Goldfinches of Baghdad, however, is the shape the collection makes as a whole ...

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