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 …

There is nowhere quite like The Monthly. We are told that we live in a time of diminished attention spans; a time where the 24-hour-news-cycle has produced a collective desire for hot takes and brief summaries of the news and ideas that effect us. But we don’t believe it. The need for considered, reflective, long-form journalism has never been greater, and for almost 20 years, that’s what The Monthly has offered, from some of our finest writers.

That kind of quality writing costs money, and requires the support of our readers. Your subscription to The Monthly allows us to be the home for the best, most considered, most substantial perspectives on the state of the world. It’s Australia’s only current affairs magazine, an indispensable home for cultural commentary, criticism and reviews, and home to personal and reflective essays that celebrate and elevate our humanity.

The Monthly doesn’t just comment on our culture, our society and our politics: it shapes it. And your subscription makes you part of that.

Select your digital subscription

Month selector

From the front page

Kim Williams seen through window with arms half-raised

The interesting Mr Williams

At a time when the ABC faces more pressure than ever before, is its new chair the right person for the job?

Exterior of the Department of Treasury, Canberra

Tax to grind

Tax reform should not be centred on what we want, but on who we want to be

Rehearsal for the ABC TV show ‘Cooking with Wine’, March 13, 1956

Whose ABC?

Amid questions of relevance and culture war hostilities, the ABC’s charter clearly makes the case for a government-funded national broadcaster

Tony McNamara in New York City, January 2024

Pure things: Tony McNamara

How the Australian screenwriter of ‘Poor Things’, who cut his teeth on shows such as ‘The Secret Life of Us’, earnt his second Oscar nomination

In This Issue

The boys in Girls: Christopher Owens and Chet 'JR' White.

Out of the bay

Girls’s ‘Father, Son, Holy Ghost’

Illustration by Jeff Fisher.

Garage alchemists

A dining experience at Hobart’s Garagistes

Opera masterpiece

Neil Armfield - ‘Peter Grimes’, 2009

Brian Blanchflower, 'Canopy LI (Scelsi IV), oils, wax medium, pumice powder, acrylic on laminated hessian, January-May 2001, 221 x 172 cm.LEFT: Full painting. Right: Detail.Collection of the artist. © Brian Blanchflower. Photograph by Robert Frith.

Visual art (two-dimensional) masterpiece

Brian Blanchflower - ‘Canopy LI (Scelsi I–IV)’, 2001


More in Arts & Letters

Tony McNamara in New York City, January 2024

Pure things: Tony McNamara

How the Australian screenwriter of ‘Poor Things’, who cut his teeth on shows such as ‘The Secret Life of Us’, earnt his second Oscar nomination

Jeffrey Wright in ‘American Fiction’

The dread of the author: ‘American Fiction’ and ‘Argylle’

Cord Jefferson’s satire about Black artists fighting white perceptions of their work runs out of ideas, while Matthew Vaughn’s spy movie parody has no ideas of its own

David Malouf, March 2015 in Sydney

An imagined life: David Malouf

Celebrating the literary great’s 90th birthday with a visit to his incongruous home of Surfers Paradise to discuss a life in letters

Illustration by Jeff Fisher

Pictures of you

The award-winning author kicks off our new fiction series with a story of coming to terms with a troubled father’s obsessions


More in Masterpieces

© Sergio Dionisio/Getty Images

Design masterpiece

Marc Newson - ‘Qantas A380 Economy Seat’, 2008

Fiction masterpiece

JM Coetzee - ‘Summertime’, 2009

© Chris Harvey

Architecture masterpiece

Lindsay & Kerry Clare - ‘Gallery of Modern Art’, Queensland, 2006

Opera masterpiece

Neil Armfield - ‘Peter Grimes’, 2009


Online latest

Osamah Sami with members of his local mosque

In ‘House of Gods’, Sydney’s Muslim community gets to be complicated

Plus, Barnaby Joyce shines in ‘Nemesis’, Emma Seligman and Rachel Sennott deliver ‘Bottoms’, and Chloë Sevigny and Molly Ringwald step up for ‘Feud: Capote vs. The Swans’.

International Film Festival Rotterdam highlights

Films from Iran, Ukraine and Bundaberg were deserving winners at this year’s festival

Two women on a train smile and shake hands

‘Expats’ drills down on Hong Kong’s class divide

Plus, Netflix swallows Trent Dalton, Deborah Mailman remains in ‘Total Control’ and ‘Vanderpump Rules’ returns for another season

Image of a man playing music using electronics and the kora (West African harp)

Three overlooked albums of spiritual jazz from 2023

Recent releases by kora player John Haycock, trumpeter Matthew Halsall and 14-piece jazz ensemble Ancient Infinity Orchestra feel like a refuge from reality