A review of The Unintended Consequences of the Shattering by Linda Adair

Reviewed by Beatriz Copello

The Unintended Consequences of the Shattering
by Linda Adair
Melbourne Poets Union
ISBN: 9780648967903, Paperback, Dec 2020, $25

The Unintended Consequences of the Shattering by Linda Adair confronts the reader with words that flow with musical quality and which bring to light current and pressing issues. The broken, the fragmented, the damaged are all there, but also love. Yes, love for nature, family, justice as well as an understanding of humans and their lives. 

Although, The Unintended Consequences of the Shattering is Adair’s first book of poetry, she has been associated with poetry and writing for a very long time, she is one of the Publishers and an editor of the Rochford Street Review and she also has given numerous readings at poetry events all over NSW.  

In Adair’s poetry the reader will see what the poet sees, and will hear what she hears.  Hand to hand with nature, the domestic makes an appearance, alluding to secrets, to what is said and not said. Like most modern poets, Adair pays attention to the visual form of the poem, the spacing and arrangement of the poems. Childhood memories and other memories bring to life nostalgic words  “like islands of papier-mâché against the torrent of memory.” (“The Topography of Us”)

Adair demonstrates a deep engagement with the world, focusing on minute details in the environment. The poet arouses the reader’s imagination and feelings when she describes nature as well as when she recounts events that impacted her, like the death of her grandmother – a storyteller. 

Art and poetry have been used as a form of resistance throughout history, and Adair uses her voice to push back against oppression, to protect the environment and to fight for social justice. In the following poem titled “A Refugee of the War Indoors”, the strength of the poet’s words can be appreciated:

I see the smile in your eyes, and we start to chat
you tell me why you live on the streets 
  being outside is good for me

your home became a torture chamber
where your partner inflicted daily punishments
until a neighbour called 000
and you escaped
albeit, in an ambulance
your broken body will never fully recover
but you have your self-belief back

Adair is not afraid to bring up difficult issues such as the cruelty of online chats, sacrificed ecosystems and the greed and entitlement of First World multinationals. The poet is also very skilled in narration, and tells stories with a voice that is poetic beautiful and deliberate. A very impressive narration is one titled “The Gunner” which tells the story of a motherless boy who: “grew like an opportunistic weed in the cracks of the city’s pavement” and later became a soldier who fought in Gallipoli. 

One of Adair’s poems brought tears to my eyes. I am referring to the one titled “The Southerly Never Arrived”, a more personal poem with a slightly different sensibility to the more overly political poems in this collection. Another poem that really touched me is the following poem titled “# and counting”:

As each week passes the number grows
into an overwhelmingly negative integer
a jaundiced press cites salacious details
obscures the common thread of misogyny
suturing the disembodied statistics
                  of spiralling rates together

The Unintended Consequences of the Shattering is a chapbook with 24 pages of poetry, but each poem is a coffer which contains small jewels of words: pearls strung with the cord of humanity .

About the reviewer: Dr Beatriz Copello is an award-winning poet who writes poetry, fiction, poetry reviews and plays. The author’s books are: Women Souls and Shadows, Meditations At the Edge of a Dream, Under the Gums Long Shade, Forbidden Steps Under the Wisteria, A Call to the Stars translated and published in China and Taiwan, Witches Women and Words, Renacer en Azul and  Lo Irrevocable del Halcon (In Spanish). Copello’s poetry has been published in literary journals such as Southerly and Australian Women’s Book Review and in many feminist publications. Copello is mentioned amongst the forty “most notable people” graduated from the University of Technology, Sydney.