Jill Jones reviews 'The Metronome' by Jennifer Maiden

Jill Jones reviews 'The Metronome' by Jennifer Maiden

The Metronome

by Jennifer Maiden

Giramondo $24 pb, 96 pp, 9781925336214

Jennifer Maiden’s latest book, The Metronome, is essentially part of a series that could be dated to the appearance of Friendly Fire in 2005, if not further back. While it may not be a series in the sense of a life-poem, Maiden’s ongoing production of this sequence of books carries an impression of vocation or serious commitment, rather than simply poems-as-project.

There are continuing characters in Maiden’s work, recurring structures (the dialogue between characters of the past and the present being chief among these, such as the ongoing one between Hillary Clinton and Eleanor Roosevelt), and a fearless interrogation of the moral complexities of our age, which allows the books to hinge on a dialectic of voicings, between dialogic/plural, and a more singular individual voice.

Of course, a reader, especially a reader new to Maiden’s work, might question the validity of her approach, especially with respect to the dialogue poems. We cannot know what any of these current or historical figures really think. Yet, our histories and thinking, and the current media, are full of presumptions, falsities, rushes to judgement, so it is more than simply refreshing to encounter another way of speaking about and through such personae. Maiden sets up a place for an ethical as well as aesthetic encounter; sets up a way of learning how to think about these issues. And that way is through poetry, through lines, stanzas, description, tropes, sonic effects, through dialogue and event.

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Published in May 2017, no. 391
Jill Jones

Jill Jones

Jill Jones has published nine full-length books of poetry including Breaking the Days (2015), The Beautiful Anxiety (2014), which won the 2015 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Poetry, and Ash is Here, So are Stars (2012). Her work is represented in major anthologies including the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature and The Penguin Anthology of Australian Poetry. She is a member of the J.M. Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice, University of Adelaide. She was poet-in-residence at Stockholm University for five months in 2014-15.

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