O’Hagan manages a delicate balance between immediacy and nostalgia with a light hand that feels natural, inviting the reader into the moment to share in the meaning making. There are layers of desire pervading the work, time and space condensing, folding into itself in sudden revelations that come into a quiet scene with the force of empathy
Moss’ words are eloquent and have a deep ring of truth. I love how he utilises sophisticated words mixed with slang. Several of the poems engage with the suffering of First Nations people including the welfare abuse of children who were taken away from their families. Moss pulls no punches, and his words are hard-hitting and powerful.
Cameron is very creative and is able to reveal a lot in the different ways she writes and sets the poems. For example in one poem she utilises pieces of dialogues which are obviously spoken at the time of the diagnosis. In this section there is also a very poignant poem titled “A Letter to my Body”. We sometimes see our body as a different entity and we question ‘it’,or get angry with ‘it’ thinking or saying “how can you do this to me?”.
The title, Live in Suspense, is an exhortation, a demand that we live in suspense as he attempts to do. He explores suspense as an artefact, quoting Emily Dickinson and Oscar Wilde, Dickinson emphasizing the unending nature of suspense and the contrast of “annihilation” and “immortality,” Wilde calling suspense “terrible,” then saying, “I hope it will last.”
The collection gives us a cohesive, quiet voice of a narrator who seems at times to not necessarily want to talk to us. We’re faced with an internal negotiation, and perhaps finally reconciliation, with one’s own version of truth. The loops of memory – there is repetition in many of the poems – tease us with the fact that history is only ever a partial account of events.
In braiding his ruminative nonfiction with his soaring lyrical poetry, Mauch paints his 2020 in beautiful lines, hard truths, and the dual mundanity and terror of being stranded internationally as the world shut down. In writing from two Northern settings, Mauch explores what a time of rest and unrest can reveal about the human experience.
The poet observes the world around her, creating poems from ‘moments in time’. She could be in Bali, the Serengeti or Argentina. With vivid descriptions she tells sad stories like the one about a bear in the Albanian border who was abused and starved or the elephants who will die for the ivory in their tasks. Obviously, the poet is an animal lover.
Karen Poppy doesn’t spare the reader of discomfort and grimaces when exploring her identity. She courageously uncovers the secrets of the women in her family, like one who skins the animals in the collection. However, in the last two parts, the poet shows what the healing process looks like and presents us a strong voice protected by the elegance of language, and those extraordinary Voltas at the end of poems.
The poetry is often epigraphed by a snippet from a letter, either from George to Jean or Jean to George, charged by its setting as the characters move from Australia through Gallipoli, Egypt, Paris, and Palestine. The result is a tender ekphrastic that utilises these artefacts: a wedding dress, a hat, diary entries, letters, or a pressed flower to bring the past into the present, connecting the generations.
The narrative pieces are well defined and give an insight into human nature, which express an attitude towards life, a way of being in the world. Reading Called to Coddiwomple is an immersive experience which impacts on perception and empathy. The reader feels embraced by the author’s experiences, intimate as well as excited by the new life she embarks on.