Joan Fleming reviews 'Look at the Lake' by Kevin Brophy

Joan Fleming reviews 'Look at the Lake' by Kevin Brophy

Look at the Lake

by Kevin Brophy

Puncher & Wattmann, $25 pb, 162 pp, 9781925780086

Kevin Brophy’s latest book is a record of the year he spent living in the remote Aboriginal community of Mulan. The community is home to predominantly Walmajarri people, and is on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert, sixteen hours’ drive from Broome. He was given a decomposing house to live in – a ‘fixer-upper’, by all accounts – and spent his lunchtimes volunteering in the school library.  The rest of his slow days were spent in gentle, intimate observation and participation in the eddies of community life.

Brophy animates the specificities of remote community life with the masterful imagery that Australian letters has come to expect from a poet of Brophy’s calibre and experience. He writes of the ‘baked corrugations’, the ‘rotting road’, and the red sandstone hills ‘worn down to their gums’. A brief storm ‘shoulders  every tree in town / like a drunk weaving  home through a crowd’. He writes of the ‘dark liquid knowledge’ lapping in the eyes of a camel, and the chilled meat in the local shop (the only shop), which looks ‘freshly torn / from panicked creatures’.

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Joan Fleming

Joan Fleming

Joan Fleming is the author of two books of poetry, both published by Victoria University Press, Failed Love Poems (2015) and The Same as Yes (2011), and the chapbook Two Dreams in Which Things Are Taken (Duets, 2010). She has recently completed a creative thesis in ethnopoetics, and currently lives in Madrid.

Photograph © Limbo Agency