Our Reviews: Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards (Poetry)

Next Tuesday, the winners of the 2014 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards will be announced, in five categories: fiction, poetry, non-fiction, writing for young adults and drama.

Each day this week, we’ll focus on one category, sharing excerpts of our reviewers' responses to the shortlisted titles.

Today, it’s poetry.

Liquid Nitrogen, Jennifer Maiden

Reviewed by Penni Russon

The immediacy and intimacy that technology has brought to politics reverberates in Jennifer Maiden’s astonishing collection, Liquid Nitrogen. The personal is political, but for Maiden the political is personal; she draws us into the lounge room of politics. Maiden unstrands the individuals from the state.

… This is poetry very much of its time, an organic, human approach to the world we live in, to the collective consciousness that is the internet, and the deeply individual, personal existence we each lead within this collective.

Read review in full (scroll down).

Autoethnographic, Michael Brennan

Reviewed by Luke Beesley

Autoethnographic, Michael Brennan’s third collection, is a wild flirtation with a version of now. We (as readers) witness our language (and culture) taken to some kind of amnesic limit. It’s not so much an apocalyptic, sci-fi future-world, but a possible version of what’s familiar – the culture of now taken to some kind of inevitability. It’s a world traumatised by what’s referred to, in the poems, as “The Great Forgetting”.

… The Australian vernacular his never been placed in such a deliciously vivid, contemporary context. Autoethnographic is an ambitious and wonderfully realised book jambed with oddity, ideas and humour.

Read review in full.

Travelling Through the Family, Brendan Ryan

Reviewed by Jacinta Le Plastrier

Brendan Ryan’s fourth collection of poems continues the exploration of his experiences and heritage as son of a western Victorian dairy-farming family, memoried through the eyes of a now grown man who didn’t become a farmer, instead a school teacher and poet.

… Biographically, Ryan has been linked to Australian poet Philip Hodgins (1959-1995). They share a dairy-farming origin. There is also in Ryan a similar intention to use plain-language speech and a laconic, rhythmic delivery to explicate rural experience without sentiment.

Read review in full.

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