A review of Ordinary Time by Audrey Molloy and Anthony Lawrence

Reviewed by Beatriz Copello

Ordinary Time
by Audrey Molloy and Anthony Lawrence
Pitt Street Poetry
Paperback, 90 pages, ISBN 978-1-922080-13-4, Dec 2022, A$28

What can two talented people who never met in real life but established an intellectual relationship online create?  Let me answer the question: a fascinating and engaging book of poetry. ordinary time was born from the poetic correspondence, via email, of two strangers. What is interesting is that these two poets Anthony Lawrence and Audrey Molloy only met in person after the book was published, both have been widely published and with various awards to their name.

In the poetic conversation many issues are discussed and explored such us time travel, meeting your younger self and consciousness. I am a lover of ‘quantum physics’ I never imagined reading poems that deal with issues like time travel, the essence of the self, the reality of time and space.

One poet has a ‘time travel machine’ which takes him/her through past and present the other poet writes ethereal intense beautiful words. As I read each poem my mind struggled trying to decide who is he and who is she. I read a few lines and decided, yes this was written by Lawrence, then I read a few more lines and I decided no it was written by Molloy. Finally, I gave up and decided that beautiful poetry does not need a ‘gender’.

The poems in this collection are clever, intriguing and imaginative others are gentle and demonstrate a strong relationship with nature:

 When I left Hydra, in a grain of sand
in a sea -snail’s eye
and wash up weeks later
on the coast near Benghazi, I thought
I’d lost my way.  But the prevailing
nor’easter carried me south to sea
 of sand that is the Murzuk desert
and here I sensed,
        as an egret senses rain,
that I could trust the land to return me
to a barn a hemisphere and fifty years away.(18)

I was surprised by the intersubjectivity of the poets because they shared such a strong connectivity and perceptions of the world:

I too have been to the Murzuk desert.
This was after the death of love
    In second-person narrative
involving you, which is, of course,
I, with responsibility
for accepting the burdens of thought
and action, negated. (19)

The poets’ knowledge of art, music and poetry is impressive, and permeates through the pages of this book. The writers’ travelling experience and knowledge of places around the world is notable.

In the Foreword of ordinary time the authors say: “Whether courtship dance, blood-brotherhood, or epistolary love affair of the imagination, the reader can decide.” I decided that the relationship of the authors or their gender do not add anything of value to the poetry in this book because the value it has is in itself. Yes, it is a poetry book that takes the reader to places, brings to the memory forefront works of art, music, places, where each line in the poems makes you palpitate with excitement and intrigue, where literary devices have been used in a clever manner. ordinary time is not an ordinary book.

About the reviewer: Dr Beatriz Copello is an award-winning poet, she writes poetry, fiction, 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, No Salami Fairy Bread, Rambles, 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. The author has participated in international conferences, has taught Creative Writing at W.S.U. and other scholarly institutions, she has read her poetry at Writers Festivals and other poetry events in Australia and overseas. Copello is mentioned amongst the forty “most notable people” graduated from the University of Technology.