Thursday, June 14, 2012

Review of 'wild inaudible' by Mathew Abbott

Mathew Abbott’s 'wild inaudible' is part of the 2012 New Voices series by Australian Poetry. The book is a slim 39 pages but brims with lucid, tender poetry that is as pleasing to the eye as it is the mind. The title of the collection is from ‘wild’, the eleventh poem in the collection:

we are bone hollow
as flightless as wing

the wild
inaudible wild
makes no demand

The thing that first strikes me about Abbott’s poetry is the way he manages to distill an observation or thought. It is like walking into someone’s mind and collecting their first impressions of nature, sleep and language. His poetry also evokes a sense of inherent calm, reinforced by his wonderful use of enjambment. Indeed, ‘good morning’ reads like a series of lapping waves – reminiscent of the gulfs and hollows of sleep or a waking dream.

This fluidity is mirrored by a tone carried throughout the collection that is tender but, most importantly, not shy of observing things as they truly are (or appear to be). In ‘fishing’ the catch is ‘flipped up’ and its ‘unspooling/seemed elated’. Even in death there is a disguised, unspoken beauty to be found. This is similar to the poem ‘wild’ where the land ‘tears’ and ‘burns’ whilst colours are ‘scraping up’. This is a dichotomy inherent in reality: sometimes the most destructive scenes are, in a way, the most beautiful.

One of Abbott’s defining strengths is the way he personifies the elements. In ‘wetware’ the light ‘shivers’ while the rain falls in ‘articulate slants’. By focusing on nature Abbott gives the reader a breath of fresh air, allowing them to contemplate his ideas with a greater level of emotional connectivity.

I am particularly taken by the descriptions of rain littered throughout the collection. There is something enchanting and otherworldly about water falling from the heavens, as expressed by the line ‘outside the it that rains/is really something else’. In ‘wild’ the rain is ‘oil’ that causes ‘rainbows/on the deck’ and ‘the splitting/of the spectrum’. There is a familiarity here that Abbott taps into and reawakens – think running through the rain as a small child or specks of water collecting in the eyelashes of a lover.

Another defining aspect of Abbott’s work is that his poems read like a game of Tetris – it is up to you to arrange the pieces into a meaningful whole. Indeed, I often found in many poems that individual stanzas could themselves be poems (albeit very small ones). His stanzas consist of mainly two or three lines, barely giving us time to rethink his ideas before he presents us with more. This is much like life itself – our collective existence is made up of countless fleeting moments that somehow configure into an organic, seamless whole.

This is a beautiful collection full of lucid moments and eloquent observations. Abbott doesn’t rely on a cacophony of poetic techniques thrown together – rather, he lets his carefully crafted words do the talking. This simplicity may not, at first, sit well with everyone –but with time I think it will. You can purchase 'wild inaudible' here:

This review was originally published on Virgule, the Voiceworks blog.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Time, Time, Time.

Hi folks,

So there's been a serious lack of blogging lately. Between university and editing my novel (and all the trendy little places to hang out in Melbourne) I haven't had much time to sit down on my laptop and write a blog post. Also, I'm moving my blog to wordpress - I think it has a cleaner, more professional feel to it and I kind of what my blog to double as a website.

Here's the header, designed and made (in about two minutes!) by the lovely Caitlin Quick:

In other news, the launch of the latest edition of Voiceworks was last Thursday - so sad to see Johannes Jakob leave as editor, but I'm excited at what Kat Muscat will bring to the publication. I proofread this latest issue (themed 'Translate'), so it was a bit sad to delve into the magazine and realise that I'd already read all of the pieces (many, many times over). All well. At least it comes with a dust jacket!

Also, Chris Flynn has an interesting article on the Meanjin website (about zombies! Yay!), and fourW is now taking submissions of fiction and poetry. 

You can also follow me on Twitter: @BroedeCarmody.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

fourW twenty-two

I have a poem published in the latest edition of fourW, an annual anthology of Australian and international writing. The poem makes reference to jellyfish, so I was pretty excited when I saw the front cover.

What's good about fourW is that it is printed in Wagga, so it often showcases writers from regional areas (rather than just our trendy, coffee drinking urban counterparts). I suggest you check it out.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Quote of the Week

"To read is to translate, for no two persons' experiences are the same." -W. H. Auden, poet (1907-1973)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Inspiration, Part 13

More inspirational images I've used for the YA novel I'm currently writing.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Interview with Lili Wilkinson

Here's an interview I conducted with Melbourne author Lili Wilkison a while back.

Find here website here.

BC: First off Lili, what inspired you to write Pink? Did the story take shape in your mind slowly over time, or did it kind of just pop into your head one day fully-formed and rearing to go?

LW: Three things inspired Pink:

1. I was sitting in Scott Westerfeld and Justine Larbalestier's living room, in 2006, and thought "what would happen in a story where someone went back into the closet?"

2. I wrote an article about "pink books" for girls - and how just because a book has a pink cover, doesn't mean the contents are insubstantial, and just because a book is fun and funny, doesn't mean it has nothing to say. The article involved me reading up a bit about the colour pink - about how it became associated with femininity during the Second World War (gay prisoners in Nazi concentration camps wore a pink triangle), and I made a list of all the things that were pink but not girly (pink slips, pink elephants, pinkeye, Pink Floyd etc).

3. US author and publisher David Levithan gave a talk at a Reading Matters Conference, where he talked about how hard it was being a gay teenager and never seeing yourself reflected on the shelves reflected in bookshops and libraries. He said how important it is for YA literature to represent all teenagers, not just straight white middle-class ones. And that made me think about the teenagers who weren't sure what box they fit into. And I wanted to write a story that said "To be honest, you don't ever have to decide which box you fit into, but you really really really don't have to decide when you're sixteen".

BC: Whilst reading Pink, I found that there was a strong sense of place, as though the settings were just as tangible as the amazing characters who made me laugh, wince and shed the occasional tear. Did you always intend to set Pink in the membranous backdrop of Melbourne? Obviously living there yourself would have helped with the descriptions of places like Melbourne Central and The Royal Arcade (one of my many favourite places to be in the city). I also couldn't help but notice that the students referred to Billy Hughes School for Academic Excellence as "The Castle". Isn't that what students of Melbourne High call their school?

LW: One of the many soapboxes that I like to pose on is one about urban Australian space. I think too many Australian novels are set in the outback - does it really reflect the experiences of most Australian teenagers? Australia is the most urbanised nation in the world. Not to say that there SHOULDN'T be books set in the outback, bush and country towns, but I'd like to see more books set in our cities and suburbs. So yes, I definitely wanted to set Pink in Melbourne.

And yes, well-spotted. I went to MacRob, and our brother school was Melbourne High. All our theatre productions were there, so I spent a lot of time at The Castle. Billy Hughes is sort of like a mix of both of them - a co-ed, more progressive version of both.

BC: I was talking to an ex-teacher the other day, and I suggested that they read your book (as one of the contexts studied in Year 12 English at our local high school is 'Identity and Belonging'). How would you feel if Pink was to be studied in schools?

LW: I'd love it. I don't think there's nearly enough YA taught in schools - there's practically none, which seems bizarre to me considering that a) there's so much amazing YA out there, and b) it's a surefire way of finding books that teenagers will actually engage with. I'd be pretty surprised if Pink did get picked up, though, because of the sexuality aspect. I've had a few librarians from Catholic schools come up to me at conferences and say how much they enjoyed Pink, but then add "of course we can't have it in our library". Which I think is really just not good enough. Pink is not an explicit or offensive book in any way - there's no sex or drugs, and only a teeny bit of alcohol (with unpleasant consequences). I think librarians have a responsibility to make sure that all their students are represented on the library shelves, and censoring what books come into the library is not the way to achieve that.

BC: Lastly, may I ask what the future holds for Lili Wilkinson?

LW: An excellent question. Let me answer it in six parts.

1. My next book will be called Love Shy. It's about a boy who is so shy he is kind of phobic of girls, and a wannabe journalist called Penny who tries to "fix" him. It unsurprisingly goes horribly wrong.

2. I'm also starting to think about a sequel to A Pocketful of Eyes.

3. Plus I'm doing my PhD at the moment, so the future me will be Dr Lili Wilkinson. In three years.

4. Part of the PhD is a thesis about how teenagers + YA literature + internet + politics = awesome. Basically I'm looking into how YA literature and online fandom is providing teenagers with opportunities to become politically and civically engaged.

5. The other part of the PhD is a novel called The Wild Kindness, about a bunch of kids who blow off a Junior United Nations Summit and go on a wild road trip across America.

6. I'm also hoping that the future will contain as much chocolate, cheese, wine, great books, friends, family, loved ones and great TV shows as the present does.