Monday, February 16, 2015

Poetry Monday: Joanne Burns

It’s been a long sleep between Poetry Mondays - sorry readers!  It’s not because I haven’t been reading poetry - far from it.  In fact, tomorrow I’ll be interviewing Philip Salom about his phenomenal and challenging poetry triptych Alterworld, which accompanied me through the Whitsundays.   I’ve just done a bit of a clean-up of my bedside table and behold, there was Joanne Burns’ Brush with its colourful and surreal Ned Kelly-like cover art painted by Joy Hester.  Brush had been there all along, hidden beneath a pile of chunkier bully books.  I picked it up and began reading, and was immediately taken in by the up-to-the-minute sharpness of Burns’ words, the playfulness, the taut and very modern intensity, and how relevant the poems are.  Here’s a bit from the opener, “factoidal”:
does your share portfolio ache
unlock your teeth in the adrenal winds,
the facilitationality of a sea of nomadic desks
doesn’t need to be seen to be believed --
Not once does Burns let the reader off the hook.  There’s plenty of tenderness and playfulness, but always with a reminder of our posturing, our facades, our absurdities, and by ‘our’ I really mean ‘my’.  Despite the sharp edges, it seems like each poem finishes with a little wink - a kind of “get it” that allows the reader to join in the laughter (“It’s neptune or never”).  I’m still reading and intend to take my time, as I like to with poetry - reading a couple of poems before bedtime and letting them unhinge my dreams, then sneaking one during the day, maybe a few more in the afternoon...almost clandestinely, working through them secretly in my head.  If you’d like to sample a bit more of Burns, there are 249 (!) of her poems here at the Australian Poetry Library.  I quite liked “Thief” which you can read in its entirety at:
he would chew
deep through the moon
offering us just the dust
and thread every little star
through the spaces in his thought

Sunday, February 1, 2015

New Compulsive Reader Newsletter for Feb is out!

Hi fellow readers.  A new issue of The Compulsive Reader News has now been sent out and should be hitting your in-box shortly if it hasn’t already.  The current issue has ten fresh reviews including my own lengthy review of Philip Salom’s Afterworld, as well as interviews with West of Sunset’s Stewart O’Nan and Plus One’s Christopher Noxon.  We also have 6 (yes 6!) book giveaways this month, including West of Sunset, Plus OneMiss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League by Jonathan Odell, The Price of Blood by Patricia Bracewell and more.  We also have all the latest literary news from around the world.  If the email gremlins got to it before you did and you didn’t get your copy, you can grab one from the Compulsive Reader Archive.  If you aren’t a subscriber, you can join us free at