Toby Fitch reviews 'Drones and Phantoms' by Jennifer Maiden

Toby Fitch reviews 'Drones and Phantoms' by Jennifer Maiden

Drones and Phantoms

by Jennifer Maiden

Giramondo, $24 pb, 80 pp, 9781922146724

Jennifer Maiden’s eighteenth book of poetry bears yet another title punning on war (remember Tactics, The Problem of Evil, The Occupying Forces, The Border Loss, Acoustic Shadow, Friendly Fire). Her umbrella themes – politics, power, evil, the public and private selves, war, and the role of art – are back. The title is a beautiful droning of her past work – ‘But the problem of evil drums: rhythm / and the drug of immediacy’ – and has a brutal currency, given US drones are coming and going from Middle Eastern airspace, silently yet violently, like phantoms. In ‘The live grey cell’, Obama asks Mandela: ‘You used capitalism over slaughter, but / with the drone that is my brain, whenever can / I relax into reconciliation?’

For the fifth individual collection in a row (starting with Mines in 1999), Maiden exploits the discursive, lyrical, essayistic, philosophical, political narrative mode that she has come to be recognised for, garnering major Australian literary awards.

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Toby Fitch

Toby Fitch

Toby Fitch is based in Newtown, Sydney. He is poetry editor of Overland and program director for the Australian Poets Festival. He also works as a bookseller at Gleebooks, a teacher of creative writing at the University of Sydney, and runs the Sappho Books poetry night. His books of poetry include Rawshock (Puncher & Wattmann 2012), which won the Grace Leven Prize for Poetry, Jerilderies (Vagabond Press 2014) and The Bloomin' Notions of Other & Beau (forthcoming, Vagabond 2016).

Published in April 2015, no. 370

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