October 2011

Arts & Letters

Poetry masterpiece

By Lisa Gorton
Jennifer Maiden - ‘Friendly Fire’, 2005

Jennifer Maiden’s fourteenth poetry collection is a masterpiece in the original sense of that word: fantastical, intelligent, unassuming and conversational, it gives full expression to her talent. In this collection, there are few borrowed or conventional elements; to a remarkable degree, the style of these poems expresses her particular vision.

Maiden takes imaginative possession of all that presents itself – on TV, at home, in the news, out the window. Her poems zigzag from public events to small happenings: from George W Bush to the sight of clouds over the Monaro. In this way, her poems suggest how what we might describe as important finds its place in the everyday, haphazard and provisional. They test how we allocate pity, for instance, to some categories of experience and not others.

Friendly Fire is remarkable for its independence and for its approach to form – taken not as a technical exercise or traditional achievement, but as a shaping principle of thought. There aren’t many poets who bring together poetry’s lyric, confessional and satirical modes as deftly as Maiden. Her ambition is not to be impressive but to be true.

—Lisa Gorton

 

from ‘Reflected Hearth at Bowen Mountain’

                        … The primary colours
of someone’s neighbouring TV
dance in an upstairs pane, vast glass
where worlds juxtapose unmoved.
                        If I lean forward
I am in the window, but the fireplace
with its stove and chimney dominates
as if the outside bush were made to frame it,
not just its reflection.             The tree boles
lean on the wind fully-charactered
like those by a river, like firewood
in this fire.             The sky is not grey but
colourless-cold and vibrant-cold with power …

Cover: October 2011

October 2011

From the front page

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The Djab Wurrung Birthing Tree

The highway construction causing irredeemable cultural and environmental damage

Detail of 'Man, Eagle and Eye in the Sky: Two Eagles', by Cai Guo-Qiang

Cai Guo-Qiang’s ‘The Transient Landscape’ and the Terracotta Warriors at the National Gallery of Victoria

The incendiary Chinese artist connects contemporary concerns with cultural history

Image of Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese and CFMEU Victoria secretary John Setka

Judge stymies Albanese’s plans to expel Setka from ALP

A protracted battle is the last thing the Opposition needs


In This Issue

Scene from 'The Theft of Sita'. Image courtesy of Melbourne Festival.

Music theatre masterpiece

An Australian–Indonesian production - ‘The Theft of Sita’, 2000

Words: Shane Maloney | Illustration: Chris Grosz

Robert Helpmann & Anna Pavlova

Theatre masterpiece

Tom Wright & Benedict Andrews - ‘The War of the Roses’, 2009

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Queen of the night

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Judge stymies Albanese’s plans to expel Setka from ALP

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