How does one choose?! Highly recommend them for your Christmas wishlists! Jude is the kind of unapologetic antiheroine I crave reading about, and her relationship with Cardan is full of schemes and twists. It totally captivated me! Another sequel this one needs to be read after Strange the Dreamer! It totally wins your heart over, while being brutally realistic. I love reading about teens who refuse to be crushed by society though, and so hope this gets the claim and recognition it deserves over the whole world!
This was such a clever and amazingly intoxicating adventure featuring a con artist and a girl running away from finishing school. It is delightfully badass and tricky and has a complex magic system I really enjoyed getting lost in. I also am a total sucker for the secretly-soft-con-artist types. It has the very slightest tastes of romance, but I also loved how it focused on friendship instead. Amnesia fiction generally contains a character suffering from some form of memory loss, or memory loss forms part of the storyline. Here are seven amnesia fiction novels you might enjoy.
We Were Liars by E. Cady Cadence , Mirren, Johnny and Gat are best friends and they spend every summer holidaying on a private island off the coast of Massachusetts. Two years later she returns to the island in an attempt to try and remember what happened. Before I Go to Sleep by S. Watson Every time Christine goes to sleep she loses all of her memories.
A consequence of a traumatic brain injury years earlier, her brain erases everything overnight and when she wakes, she has no idea who she is. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins Rachel catches the same train into London each day and enjoys imagining the lives of those living in the houses she travels past. The train waits at the same signal light each day and she pays particular attention to one of the houses. Rachel is an alcoholic and her memory is patchy as a result of black outs and alcohol abuse.
This makes her an unreliable narrator. Still Alice is about family dynamics and the sense of self. The Maze Runner by James Dashner When Thomas arrives on a lift surrounded by a gang of boys, all he can remember is his name. He finds himself in a walled glade which forms part of a mysterious yet brutal stone maze. Prepared to risk his life to escape the maze, what Thomas finds will irrevocably change the lives of everyone in the glade. She also has a strained relationship with her sister. Alice tries to work out what happened to her life.
How did her life become like this and how did she lose 10 years of her life? Was he an assassin? Why are people trying to kill him? Do you enjoy amnesia fiction? Have you read any of these books? Always possessing a love of the imagination, magic, excitement and adventure, Teena has produced such engaging titles like Friends, True Blue Amigos, Mad Dad for Sale , amongst others, and her latest re-release edition of Who Dresses God?
When years ago as a young child, this divine little soul sought philosophical insights into how God can hear, see and speak, how He transcends yet blends into everything, everywhere, without any physical connection. This is a tender and loving rhyming picture book that opens the gateways to enlightened discussion amongst families with preschoolers and beyond, and is particularly delightful to share around this holy time of year.
Teena, you have had a long relationship with writing coming from a background in journalism. I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a writer. Books opened a door into the wonderful world of imagination for me and from the time I learnt to read my head was filled with story ideas of my own. The journalism came about by accident rather than intention. In high school when the vocational guidance officer suggested I become a journalist I dismissed the idea as I thought it would be far too boring to write news stories.
However a good looking surfer came onto scene and instead I married and we bought a home and started a family. I knew nothing about the publishing industry and it was long before computers and the Internet, so it was a learning journey. General reporting and feature writing evolved into sub-editing and editing and I learnt some invaluable skills that I was able to use in my creative writing.
I never lost my dream of becoming a published author, so continued to write, submit and learn everything I could about writing for children. In time the acceptances began to come in. Do you have a genre you feel most comfortable with? What do you find are the most common themes or influences in your writing? Essentially, I look on the brighter side of life and my stories invariably have a lightness and optimism about them. What can you tell us about this book and what is your aim for readers sharing it with family members, particularly around this time of the year?
The book was inspired by my younger daughter, who asked me that question as a child after a conversation with my mum. I hope the story will start a discussion between children and their family members and encourage young people to think about the world we share and whether there is more to it than there appears to be. What do you see? How does it feel? Cover your ears with your hands. What can you hear? How does that feel?
Close your lips and cover your mouth. Go outdoors to a nature area such as the park, bushland or seashore. Stand perfectly still and look around you. What do you hear? Can you feel anything? Then go through the same process, only this time with closed eyes and blocked ears. How much of the world around you are you aware of when you do this? This can also be done in a suburban shopping centre or city street; also while travelling in a car, bus or train. Imagine you have the amazing power to create your own world and everything in it. How would it look and how would things work?
Write a description or draw a picture of your world. You and illustrator, Veronica Rooke , have not only collaborated on the development of this and several other books, but also conduct school presentations together. What has it been like working with her on these projects?
I met Veronica when I was working for a local newspaper and she was producing a weekly cartoon strip for the publication, so our friendship goes way back. I was impressed with the way Veronica worked, because I had no idea how to brief an artist. I still take the same approach when I commission Veronica to create illustrations or book covers, though occasionally I will suggest a particular style or mood.
I was thrilled when Serenity Press commissioned her to illustrate my picture book, Friends, and encouraged a collaborative approach, because we work so well together. What does Christmas time look like for you and your family? What are your favourite festive traditions? We always have a family get together at our house in the evening for our children and their families.
The meal is buffet style, with contributions from everyone: Every year I make the chocolate snowballs and chocolate fudge my mother-in-law used to make, and the bean salad and nut meat pasties that my mum made at Christmas. I love that our family can be together at this time. For many years there was another tradition on Christmas Day, and that was a visit to the Italian family home in Fremantle.
It began in my childhood and long after my grandmother died my bachelor uncle continued to hold open house there. Sadly, after my uncle died eight years ago the house was sold and that tradition is no more. I have a new picture book in production and scheduled for release by Daisy Lane Publishing in mid When the Moon is a Smile is about the special times a small girl spends with her dad, who no longer lives with them.
You asked some great questions and the dressing God one put me on the spot! This is a lyrical directive to everyone to care for refugees and anyone needing help.
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Scholastic Australia was very well represented, with a table full of shortlisted authors and illustrators hosted by p ublisher Clare Halifax. R ising star Tamsin Janu was again awarded for her Figgy series set in Ghana. This time for Figgy Takes the City. And Scholastic published the winning YA work: I also loved catching up with some of the poets, such as eminent writer Judith Beveridge; genre-crossing Adam Aitken, shortlisted for Archipelago Vagabond Press ; and Brian Castro who won with Blindness and Rage: A Phantasmagoria Giramondo and appropriately read a po em-speech.
His prose work, The Bath Fugues , is a personal favourite. Gerald Murnane, winner of the fiction category for Border Districts another winner for Giramondo is known as a recluse. It is great to see his work recognised further with this prestigious award. The holidays are coming! So as we amble into the last month of the year, let me hinder help you out by reminding you of these fanatic YA new releases.
And honestly we are just here for ownvoices authors, with diverse settings and lgbtqia lead characters. They never just stay on the page. Another from a famous and incredible author who also brought us the infamous Shatter Me series! Shirin is the kind of person who keeps her guard up, until she meets someone called Ocean, and things begin to change. This entire cover speaks to my soul. We get a motley cast of four Cassa, Alys, Evander and Newt. Cassa has sorted of inherited the rebellion from her parents, and is struggling to keep it going, while their world is ruled by an infallible prophecy that Cassa and her crew have to uncover.
I am so excited to start this one! And when it comes to books, I have a very soft place in my heart for stories that focus on sibling relations. If knowledge is controlled, then freedom is gone, right?! It also follows a group of book lovers off to try the difficult entrance exams to work for the library…and Jess is joining in as a double-agent. Also he freaking loves books. He wants to work at the library with them, even if the library is corrupt and evil.
He has a very tumultuous relationship with his twin brother Brendan, who is cunning to the core. This follows the story of Jordie who is slowly trying to piece his life back together after a horrific childhood that ended with him nearly dead. His anchor and soul is his half-brother Kevin and separated them would just about kill Jordie. And then his real father walks onto the scene and demands his son back. There are plenty of frustrated but loving brotherly moments and your cold dead heart will melt for this one. And then Tyler goes missing.
This book is literally everything you want in life. It is beyond perfect! Time travel in fiction is nothing new. The Time Machine by H. In , an American teacher named Jake discovers he can travel back in time to After careful consideration and a few false starts, he sets out to prevent the assassination of JFK in The consequences of time travel and changing the future are addressed through the characters and the ending was extremely satisfying. I understand this is a murder mystery featuring strong, intelligent women that examines the toll of time travel which always interests me.
As luck would have it, she becomes stranded. The reason this is so high on my list is I want to know what happens next. How does she adapt to her circumstances, what does she make of the people, the culture, the lifestyle? It contains chapters on: This is a detailed and comprehensive guide to the period and location and one of my all time favourite reads. Today I want to list some Little Mermaid retellings! We are living for this. Her version of the Little Mermaid follows a more traditional route, keeping to what Hans Christian Anderson invented, but she uses it as a vehicle to talk about the patriarchy and how poisonous it can be too.
It follows the story of Gaia who dreams of going to the surface like her mother did before her and finding that boy she saved. The twists in this book are epic and mind blowing! Lira does lose her fins like the original Little Mermaid, but for her its a punishment from her octopi-looking mother until she kills Prince Elian, a notorious siren slayer. Lira and Elian are the perfect hate-to-love romance and her viciousness with his kindness makes for such a good read!
It balances dark and bloody sirens with the quips and banter of a pirate crew so well, and the pace is just perfect. Allison Paterson has always had a deep connection to Australian history and culture, and her writing reflects more than just research or fiction. Allison also immortalises her ancestory with her wartime, award-winning books, Anzac Sons ; based on letters written on the Western Front.
Using her teacher-librarian status and forseeing a gap in the market, Allison has gone on to produce a new series for primary school students. The first of the nonfiction titles includes Australia Remembers: This is an absolutely stunning documentation of colourful facts, phenomenal photographs — old and new, illustrative posters, quotes and glossary, all presented like a beautiful magazine with easy-to-digest and visually engaging chunks of information across twelve short chapters.
The book covers topics and proposes readers consider commemoration and showing gratitude, what ANZAC and its spirit means, the importance of annual ceremonies and the significance of symbols and traditions. Australia Remembers is an important resource that emanates with a sense of engaging the community spirit and extending the legacy of those we ought to always remember. A must-have for Remembrance Day and Anzac Day. How did you come to be a writer? Writing has always been in my life, but the decision to resign from an awesome job as a teacher-librarian to pursue writing as a career came only a couple of years ago.
It all began with the publication of Anzac Sons — the story of my ancestors in WWI and a collection of hundreds of letters they wrote from the Western Front. The transition from being a teacher-librarian was not difficult. I love inspiring kids to write! Being prepared to diversify and look for opportunities, such as mentoring, editing and writing for magazines all helped the financial shift. Why is the Australian culture such a strong influence in your writing? I spend most of my time lurking around in the past so historical fiction and non-fiction are certainly my favoured writing genres and where I gravitate to in a book shop or library.
I love the people we have become and our awesome landscape. I feel very connected with the land and when I travel to the place where I grew up it always feels like going home. What do you hope it will achieve? I hope that readers develop both an understanding and respect for the role that our armed services have in the development of our wonderful country and the way of life we enjoy today. It is designed to ensure that the next generation shares the history and traditions of our important commemorative occasions. I also hope it encourages children to find out about the experiences of their own ancestors.
Australia Remembers has inbuilt activities and discussion starters and is supported by extensive teacher notes which are available on my website, or on the Teachers page at Big Sky Publishing. My favourite lessons can be found in the notes, but if there was one I would pick it would be to explore your local memorials. Find out about the service of those in your local community. The next book in this marvellous series is Australia Remembers: Customs and Traditions of the Australian Defence Force. Customs and Traditions of the Australian Defence Force is underway and will be released in It explores the history of the Army, Navy and Air Force in Australia, along with the shared and specific customs and traditions which have developed, sometimes over centuries!
It will be a terrific resource for answering the questions which arise around our commemorative services. The whole series plan is a work in progress and we have lots of ideas that we are exploring for future titles. Follow After Me is about finding a lost part of yourself in the spirit, words and actions of those who came before.
Its themes include family, Anzacs, the Australian landscape, rural life and the past! This time though there are two coming-of-age protagonists, one of today and one enduring the events of World War I. It is written in a parallel narrative that converges with the discovery of a collection of WWI letters and a growing sense of connection to place that cannot be ignored. A war to end all wars, a tiny key and a rural Australian property that binds across the generations.
Two young women living a century apart discover who they are and where their hearts belong. Thanks so much, Allison, for your generous answers to our questions! All the best with your writing! Visit Allison Paterson at her website , and on her Australia Remembers book blog tour here.
Liz Anelli has been achieving recognition for her distinctive illustrations. It is a Britain-to-Australia immigration story. Liz Anelli has created authentic detail, even using fabrics from her family to fashion the clothing. One is creative and messy. The other is ordered and tidy. Their map-making is a triumph. Her books include the engrossing Secrets of Eromanga Lothian Books, Hachette about Australian dinosaur fossils and Sweet Adversity HarperCollins , a historical novel set in Australia during the Great Depression with Shakespearian and theatrical touches.
Full details and booking information are in the flyer below or follow the link. The awkwardly awesome and quiet world-changers who also just want a nap. Probably the most commonly recommended book for the shy introvert types! Cath is incredibly reserved and would much rather write fanfic and hide from humanity relatable. The story follows her starting college, her sister ditching her, and the terrifying yet tentative forming of new friendships that might just change everything…although she keeps her reserved personality and this I love!
While this is quite an old one, it is still most glorious and features faeries! But her assassin falls in love with her. And Dee is a very very quiet person who has terrible performance anxiety and needs SO much recharge time after nearly being murdered by supernatural assassins.
Another tale that is rife with the paranormal: This is quite enough on its own, buuuut add in a town where harbingers arrive foretelling death and a supernatural beekeeper turns up to sow madness and discord, and you have an introvert who is in a bit of a panic. With World Mental Health Day having come and gone on the 10th of October, I thought this would make a great opportunity to give some mental health YA reading recommendations!
If there are two things we all need, they are definitely empathy and knowledge. Of course John Green is an extremely common YA name and well deserved! It also features a delicious amount of baking. Kiko will absolutely break your heart and mend it a little as she uses art to escape her terrible home life. This is a historical fiction romp and a half! One of my all time favourite books! Jack is losing himself and August will do anything to hide it so no one takes Jack away.
Just in case you wanted to have your heart punched out of your chest…definitely try this one! Perfect book is utterly perfect. One thing we bookworms get quite enthusiastic about when it comes to fantasy stories must definitely be: Oh we have our cats in real life, but what could be better than a little pocket dragon or a suitcase full of weird and wonderful monsters?
If you are secretly mourning the lack of magical creatures in your life, do allow me to show you a list of books where you can vicariously live your dreams of having a pet who is possibly a shapeshifting kraken. Obviously what everyone wants. Not only is this a brand new shiny release…it features beasts turned human! You know the old Disney stories where the fairy godmother turns the mice into coachmen?
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Here we have it! Except the witches are evil and the beasties are her slaves and very very desperate not to turn back into their animals skins. Might as well thrown in a good oldie too…because werewolves are kind of adorable. Once you look past the part where they might eat you. Grace is obsessed with the wolves that live in the woods and then she discovers one is a golden-eyed boy in the summer time. It is the worst luck that they just met when Sam is running out of time — and their sweet desperate romance drives them to look for a cure. Seriously, you have never read about a wolf who is sweeter than Sam Roth he folds origami, I mean.
It appears to be doing zlich and Rudy is miserable and lonely…until he meets a boy in the water who is absolutely not just human. He appears to be part fish himself. He plans how to save him. Look now we get to the real winner of the day: However it is the best dragon companion. And Tess is a character you so easily feel for, after she escapes an abusive and oppressive life and dresses as a boy and heads off to find her fate on her own. It also deals with the oppression of women and the everyday abuse they suffer making it a very topical book, even with a setting of shapeshifting dragons and swords and very sharp cheese.
Dimity Powell , author of evocatively and beautifully written and illustrated by Nicky Johnston titles including The Fix-It Man my review and interview and At the End of Holyrood Lane my review is here to discuss the creation of the latter in an insightful interview. Dimity is a well-established presenter in Australia and overseas and a strong advocate for literacy as a workshop leader and Books in Homes Role Model.
As you would be aware from her Boomerang Books reviews , Dimity has a flair for exquisite language, and her picture books are conveyed no differently.
Edited by Cary Nelson
Congratulations, Dim, on your newest, very special picture book, once again collaborating with the gorgeous Nicky Johnston! Following your successful partnership on The Fix-It Man , was this second joint venture something you always planned or just a lucky coincidence? It is something we both secretly always wished for — we adore working together — but was definitely more of a case of fate than design. Her style was just right for projecting the type of feeling this work required. Your story deals with a delicate topic on domestic violence and emotional safety through the metaphorical torment of a thunderstorm.
We know Nicky has the knack for capturing the deep and true essence of a story. How do you feel she portrayed your intention? Was there much collaboration throughout the process? She portrayed every intention brilliantly! Nicky has a phenomenal initiative grasp of the story behind my stories. This occurs with little to no consultation at all, which stuns me. There are many experiments about ice in other books and online to extend this subject. Children may also be interested in looking at Antarctica in real time via web cams http: More information on this and the other shortlisted books will be available soon on an online CBCA platform.
Four types of writing are used in the novel 1. Writing in the voice of each protagonist 2. Wellness Journal entries italics Students could analyse differences in voice from both these types of writing 3. PSST — the source of cyber bullying. This gives another perspective. Read a selection of these entries.
Wellness Worksheets Complete one of these e. The Secret Science of Magic was longlisted for the Indies awards. I reviewed it for the Weekend Australian. Use Plotagraph which creates a moving image from a single still graphic image in Adobe Photoshop or other tools to demonstrate this or another magic trick. Read other novels by Melissa Keil: I interviewed Pip Harry for the blog here. Meredith also helps them by running a Street Library, pages 69,, Poems for each other Nola gives a poem to Tiny and vice versa.
In pairs, students write poems to give each other. Writing Group The writing group at the homeless shelter tries the following activities, which students could do also. However, debut novelist Charlie Archbold who is female has written Mallee Boys, a novel that epitomises masculinity. It explores the effect of grief and loss on Grace, who is trying to mask her vulnerability. It walks a tightrope — literally and psychologically as it balances the genres of contemporary realism with elements from the supernatural ghost tale. Film An early scene where extreme prankster, Grace Foley, freezes at the pipe challenge crossing over the quarry at night is a pivotal scene in Ballad of a Mad Girl.
It sets the confronting, haunting tone. Headlights are dimmed and stones are thrown. Use different camera angles, particularly to give the illusion of the pipe over a height. Film an establishing shot; the camera can scan characters and show close-ups of their facial expressions. Use filters to create a night-time setting and lights to emulate the headlights. Show them dimming when Grace crosses. Ballad Students could write a ballad or murder ballad lyrics that tell the story of a murder. Not many readers seemed to be aware of this book until it was CBCA shortlisted.
Feedback has since been very favourable. It is set in the Murray Mallee area of South Australia and told by two brothers. Sandy is fifteen and a good student although dreamy. His older brother Red has left school and seems suited to life on the farm with his dog, Ringer. He is suffering from guilt, believing he contributed to the death of their mother. Masculinity is explored with sensitivity and credibility, particularly relationships between father and sons.
The author writes with warmth and humour and shows that rural men can be gentle and compassionate. Rhopalic Verse After reading about Mallee males, students write rhopalic verse to explore their characteristics of strength and endurance with mallee wood. In rhopalic verse, each word in a line has 1 more syllable than in the prior word e.
The poem could be quite short, perhaps 5 lines, each with 4 words per line. This is guide only. Students could use a microphone and smart phone to make a 1-episode podcast about the differences between country and city. She is a fresh, authoritative talent; writing outside the mould. The novel circles around the importance of bees, children and community. The title is a pun with a double meaning.
Peony, Magnolia, Applejoy, Pomegranate …. Students could write about other characters or people in their own families, describing them as fruit in lyrical style. There are also related teacher notes about bees http: Families or schools could investigate setting up a bee hive, particularly with native stingless bees. Compare the taste of commercially and local, unrefined and unheated honey.
Cycles There are a range of cycles within the tale: Bees, flowers, fruit … all overlapping circles. Circle Shape Poem Children could write a Circle Shape poem about one of these or another cycle, where each line has an extra word, then decreases to make a circle shape. Tamara lives in hiding on one of the intergalactic freighters.
These are named after songs e. Through Tamara, we learn to understand the Crowpeople, who only take the resources they need to nurture the hives in their ships, which in return feed the inhabitants. Unlike humans who sell excess for profit. The simplest way to indicate a section break within a chapter is to leave a blank space between paragraphs, but designers often prefer to use a symbol or glyph. These are often three horizontally placed asterisks but asterisks can be replaced with other symbols.
This symbol is used as a dinkus in the novel e. Students find the talon dinkus in In the Dark Spaces, and then look for symbols or glyphs in other novels. Lightgraff Art or lightgraffiti is drawing or writing with light. It combines photography and calligraphy. It can be a live performance or recorded on video or time-lapse photographic stills. It is often used to embellish settings by highlighting or enhancing elements of the scene with colour, line, shape or script using light. An example of lightgraff art in Australia is by Karim Jabbari. In small groups, students create lightgraff art based on a scene or setting in the novel, In the Dark Spaces.
Her grandfather cares for her since her mother has died and her father become incapacitated by grief. Grandad makes and flies paper planes with her. Children could make coloured paper planes, write positive messages onto them e. Other Symbols in the novel are the elephant, tortoise and the dog. Elephant The elephant is the major symbol. Soap carving Children could make a soap carving of an elephant: Method Trace around the soap onto paper.
Draw and cut out the elephant on paper. Trace around the shape onto the soap. Cut away excess soap with plastic knife. Cut away more with paperclip. Etch details and texture with pencil. Students choose or write poems and type them using a typewriter.
Children could show and talk about old things that are important to them. Side by Side song. Grandad and Olive love this song. Children could also listen to it and sing along. I interviewed Lisa Shanahan about the novel for the bog here. Children could draw their own visual interpretation of worry. Children could create freeze frames of characters superimposed over a green screen beach setting. Students select a character e. Henry, his two siblings or his new friend, Cassie. Choose three scenes where they appear in the book. Make a freeze frame to show their action or mood in each scene.
Green Screen Superimpose students in their freeze frame poses onto virtual backgrounds or animated digital backdrops of the beach. A useful resource is. Parents are important in the novel. His mother is an introvert — understanding with some anxiety. His father is an extrovert — exuberant page 47 , with a big, wild love page Henrietta is a big thinker. She has a strong young voice. Children could cut and decorate paper pyjamas, perhaps using a template provided by a teacher or parent, and peg these onto a tree branch standing in a pot.
Seasons are addressed as Henrietta waits for the baby and the tree shows how the seasons change. Which is a bit like me. It is a beautifully written, dense and imaginative work brimming with thoughtful and important ideas. Joey believes that he is a nice, ordinary boy who wants to skip puberty. When Joey climbs the hill one day he finds someone occupying the treehouse. She has secrets and tells the story of the Plains of Khazar which may be history, fairy tale or folklore. The novel soars when they create music together using voice and guitar.
Both characters are profoundly drawn. Children could take excerpts from other Rumi poems or poems by other poets that they like or remind them of Marsh and Me and display them. Oh, if a tree could wander and move with foot and wings! It would not suffer the axe blows and not the pain of saws! Nature Play Both Joey and Marsh love spending time in nature, particularly in the treehouse in the peppercorn tree. They listen to bird calls and other sounds and plant an acorn. Parents or teachers could provide unstructured or structured opportunities for children including primary aged children for whom this book is written to improve their emotional, mental and physical health by spending time in the natural world.
They could build treehouses, climb trees, watch the clouds and shadows, record natural sounds or plant a seed found in the local habitat. Another lovely link between the two novels is the character of Pim Wilder. I reviewed Molly and Pim here. All these literary works bring magic into the real world. Younger Readers is a very strong list.
Some have already won or been shortlisted for other literary awards. Shortlisting in the CBCA awards is prestigious, increases awareness of each book and dramatically impacts sales. It is interesting to note that Martine Murray has been shortlisted twice in this category. Lisa Shanahan has also been shortlisted twice. She leaves the train unexpectedly at Hoopers Bend and is befriended by Pirate, a white and black dog. Jonquil is drawn to the shop at Hoopers Bend and Bailey, the older lady who has inherited it.
Jonquil spins a tale and stays on, helping Bailey rent out the shop to different businesses for a short time. To compare these with other bulbs — daffodils, snowdrops and others could be planted as well. Stardust Quil invents a game, Stardust. She believes that all things, including people, contain the dust of long-dead stars and thinks that people whose stardust composition match closely have an instant affinity with each other. Conversely, people with very different stardust are unlikely to be friends.
After reading the novel, children could look more closely at the star names and corresponding personalities.
They could use these names to categorise book characters from the shortlisted novels or other books and maybe even themselves. As a group, they could compile results into a Stardust chart. Bookplate Bookplates are an artform. Show children different bookplates. Examine the designs including space for name and possible date.
Children design their own bookplates onto a sticky label not post-it notes but labels that resemble bookplates from good stationers to reflect themselves and their reading taste. Some of her short stories sound like my favourite books — experimental literary fiction with magic realism and speculative elements. She recommends that emerging and other writers attend festivals, courses and literary social events, use social media and subscribe to professional organisations such as Australian Society of Authors. She acknowledged that authors are often introverts who generate energy from being alone and should balance their time with others and their book publicity with time alone writing and re-energising.
Julie quoted The Sound of Music: Her published books are Portable Curiosities and Capital Misfits. Seek out their work. Taboo Picador Australia is an exceptional work: It traces the reunion of people affected by a horrific past massacre in a Peace Park. Teenager Tilly is the daughter of deceased patriarch Jim. Twins Gerald and Gerrard may be her allies or threats.
Multiple characters are introduced effectively and some unlikeable characters are rendered with affection and understanding. They are alluded to but not shared on the page. Some can even animate objects. Got power of their own, words. This is a salutary warning about child trafficking and slavery in Australia and elsewhere told in sensory language, with a sometimes-magic realism style. I reviewed it for the Weekend Australian here. This is an exciting combination of words and exquisite, thought- provoking colour collage in evolving styles. Congratulations to these and the other winners, as well as the creators of the shortlisted titles and thanks to the State Library of NSW, the coordinator of the awards.
Link to my comments on the two youth shortlists. I clearly remember meeting Michael Wagner in Brisbane when I was consultant for an Indie bookstore there. I loved the games that the father and son played in these books and the love, as well as pathos, in their life and relationships in the housing commission apartment where they lived. I Michael have my own small imprint, Billy Goat Books , which allows me to dabble in publishing by releasing a book or two a year, while Jane freelances for a couple of different publishers.
I feel very lucky to have the partnership with Anna. We have become good friends through working and exploring ideas together, and I think we each have an understanding of how the other works, and sees the world. Alison Lester and I have collab orated in many ways as well.
This was a really wonderful project to be involved in, and all proceeds go to the Education Institute at the RCH. My friend Davina Bell and I have also collaborated in various ways. Together we created the Our Australian Girl series when we were both working at Penguin. Davina and I have also co-written two books, and both have been illustrated by Freya Blackwood.
The three of us really enjoy working together, and usually this involves a trip to stay with Freya in Orange, where Davina and I camp in her beautiful studio. Could you give us examples of your books across age-groups and forms, from picture books to series and novels. I wrote many titles in the Aussie Bites and Aussie Nibbles series, and over the past 10 or so years it has been mainly picture books. Part of the reason for this is that I adore the picture book genre — it fascinates and inspires me — and the other part is that I had a very busy and demanding job as a publisher so never had the time to write novels.
It was my first proper attempt at writing for children and remains my most enduring work. I still have the post-it note on the cover, which I wrote recommending it to one of my twin sons, who was then 14 years-old. The key character for me, Kip, was also 14 in the book, looked older than his years, played music, had given up swimming even though he was a champion and suffered anxiety — all like my son.
He seemed like such a real person. If I recall correctly, Michael mentioned that Jane had written the character with the help of their son, Wil. After all these years, Falling from Grace is deservedly still in print and I highly recommend it. How did you nurture Wil as a writer? Which song of his are you most proud and why? Wil was always interested in music and rhythm, from a very young age. He was also always interested in language. He spoke at a very early age, and also loved reading and books.
I read to him a lot, until he was quite old! A passion for music is also something that Wil and Michael share. A sentimental favourite is My Little Sinking Ship , which is a song he wrote for his sister, our daughter Lizzie, when they were both teenagers. I also love Laika , which is a very sad but beautiful song about vulnerability, really, based around the story of the Russian dog that was sent into space.
Lizzie and Wil have actually collaborated on both those songs — Lizzie made a little animation film clip for My Little Sinking Ship when she was in secondary school, and they made a handmade book, illustrated by Lizzie, for Laika. We printed a limited quantity and they sold it at gigs. Recently, Wil received an email from a teacher at a Melbourne primary school, who said that her grade 5 and 6 students studied the Laika song, and it really inspired them in different ways. I found this very moving. I was also in a band that almost became famous, so perhaps Wil is living out a part of my life that was never quite fulfilled.
I should also say that I never consciously pushed him in that or any other direction, we just responded to his interests, whatever they were at the time. Wil is also reading the same book, btw! I sure hope so! There do seem to be many books rushed through publication at the moment, particularly novels with misprints and with plots, characters and structure that could benefit from more care.
This is actually preventing books from being shortlisted for awards. Why is this rushed writing and publication process happening and is it going to improve? When I remember back in the dark ages when I was working as an editor, we had a lot more time to work on each title.
We could give each book, and each author, the time they needed.
Many publishers and editors still really try to do this now, but the world of publishing and the economics of publishing have changed so much, and books often tend to be rushed through. As someone who did his best. And perhaps made the world slightly better — be that through my books, or talks and workshops, or even through our children. It is warm-hearted with a welcome edge of rawness. Male protagonist, Bo, is a triumph, with his blend of masculinity, compassion and love. I live near Castlemaine, in north-central Victoria.
I usually spend my time writing or reading! But I also have four kids, and a couple of day jobs, so life can get pretty busy. In , when the ALIA lists came out and OzYA was barely a a blip on the radar, a group of lit sector professionals — authors, librarians, booksellers, bloggers, publishers — got together to form the LoveOzYA movement, to advocate for and promote Australian YA, and I was lucky enough to be at that first meeting.
Oz YA is thriving but why do there seem to be few Australian novels written for males at the moment? I actually think Australian YA caters pretty well to males! There are plenty of great YA books written by male YA authors, or featuring male protagonists. People liked my take on Young-Sherlock-and Girl-Watson-in-Melbourne so much I wrote a companion novel, No Limits , which I self-published last year — Harris Derwent, one of the secondary characters in the series, had his chance to shine in a darker-edged story about drug crime and high-stakes romance in regional Australia.
What is the significance of the title of your new novel White Night? But also — and this is a little Easter egg for readers! Because my brain is funny like that — there are a lot of references to the Sleeping Beauty story in White Night. I liked threading little bits of the story into the book, and flipping the idea too, with a headstrong princess who sort of rescues herself….
Could you tell us about your major characters, Bo and Rory, including their relationships with their parents? Bo is sixteen, and focused on footy, friends and family — his dad, Aaron, his pregnant mum, Liz and his younger brother, Connor. What environmental messages do you want to share? When I was researching White Night I read an incredible book: The World Without Us by Alan Weismann — it poses the thought experiment of how would nature recover and go on if all the humans in the world just disappeared overnight?
That book was mind-blowing and fascinating, and threw out lots of amazing and terrifying facts about the impact of human beings on the planet. We just need to start listening, and acting on their ideas, before things get too urgent. Oh, that book is so great! And it seems to really appeal to my kids, especially the idea of being a boy like Will with an older male mentor like Halt and learning all the survival and craft skills necessary for living on the land. Those ladies bring all the feels! Thanks very much, Ellie, and all the best with White Night.
It will no doubt find a wide and appreciative readership. Jessica Watson is well known for sailing non-stop and unassisted around the world as a year-old — the youngest person to achieve this feat. She also captained the youngest crew ever in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race, has been awarded an OAM and was named Young Australian of the Year in Indigo Blue is the name of the little run-down yacht that the main character Alex buys, and sets about fixing up.
When Alex first starts at her new school in Year Twelve, her experiences are not what she hopes for. Have you had similar experiences and, if so, how did you cope? John, who sold Alex her boat, is patronising at first. Has this been part of your own experience? What do you admire in writing? Thanks very much, Jessica, and all the best with your future literary and other careers. I had been following their literary careers by reading their writing as published and have continued to be absorbed by their exemplary work. A Life with Trees Hachette Australia is nature writing in the form of a sensory memoir.
It traces her life in ten acres of forest in the Sunshine Coast hinterland alone and with N and her two children. The book is beautifully and aptly structured as parts of the forest. Inga Simpson lived in the forest for ten years. The retreat was an oasis for writers but, along with financial and other problems, its demise is foreshadowed throughout the memoir.
We celebrate and agonise with the author through the refurbishment of her lovely cottage despite ongoing leaks and mould; the acceptance of her debut novel Mr Wigg , the completion of Nest and the winning of the prestigious Eric Rolls prize. Once her eye becomes attuned, she discovers flame tree seedlings and young cedars that were already in plain view. The profound theme of a child grieving for a parent is told in finely crafted words and images, with simpatico black and white line drawings. Tamsin Janu has been shortlisted twice in the Patricia Wrightson category this year.
Blossom is an exciting, original novel set seemingly in the real world but with subtle sci-fi content. It brilliantly alludes to the plight of aliens and refugees. Since her first novel Figgy in the World co-won the Patricia Wrightson award a few years ago, her two subsequent Figgy books all set in Ghana have also been shortlisted. Elegant yet mischievous, this illustrated book is the first publication by Dirt Lane Press. The Sorry Tale of Fox and Bear should become a universal classic.
A timely and thoughtful dystopia set in the near future when bees have become extinct. It is engaging for children as well as being a fine piece of writing. The issue of domestic violence makes it most suitable for older children. In the Dark Places will open your mind and possibly change your views. A consummate thread of magic realism, including a golem creation, runs through this novel to diffuse the horror of the important and harrowing issue of child trafficking.
I reviewed it for The Weekend Australian here. Lovely writing style by Nicole Hayes unveils a story set in the past and present. I interviewed Nicole for Boomerang Books blog here. As always by Vikki Wakefield, this is writing that digs under your skin. The first scene is utterly unforgettable. I believe tickets may still be available. I hope it is the beginning of a trend but there are a couple of excellent Australian YA psychological thrillers around. Where are you based and what is your background? I always wanted to be a writer and was accepted into the BCA writing program at Flinders University after finishing school, then continued on to do a creative writing PhD.
I moved to Melbourne while finishing my thesis and worked for a now defunct cycling magazine. After graduating, I went part-time at the magazine to try my hand at freelancing and start work on Neverland. My protagonist, Kit, is seeking a way back to the magical childhood of her memory; however, the harder she tries to relive that time, the more distorted and nightmarish her memories become.
So with the title, I wanted to evoke the sense of a dream-like place that may or may not be real and remains just beyond reach.
The story pays homage to J. We too have been there; we can still hear the sound of the surf, though we shall land no more. How does the cover hint at the treasures inside? It was designed by Chista Moffitt and the beautiful illustrations are by Eveline Tarunadjaja. There were a few reasons. But I also wanted to isolate Kit within a specific geography imprinted with layers of memory and story. And then, because the narrative is about a girl renegotiating her relationship with her past, I wanted a landscape where I could mix in some of my own nostalgia, and being a beach kid, an island seemed a fitting choice.
Her uncle and guardian, Doc, is almost the opposite. However, he was forced to grow up too quickly and is consequently quite reserved. Your main characters are about to leave school. Is this the age group of your intended readers? The story is very dark in places and and deals with suicide, self-harm, and mental illness, so I was aiming for the upper end of YA. Neverland has some important underpinning themes and issues. Could you share any of these. The original idea for the story grew out of a sense of misplaced nostalgia.
However, the book was much darker and more violent than I remembered and I started thinking about how, in times of uncertainty and upheaval, we often yearn for a romanticised version of the past and how this kind of nostalgia can prevent us from finding a way forwards. So I wanted to write a story where a young woman is forced to question the mythology of her world and her place within it.
How have you paid homage to other authors and literature in your plot, setting or characters? In the months before I started working on Neverland and while I was writing, I reread a lot of old favourites— Peter and Wendy , Treasure Island , The Odyssey , The Great Gatsby —and the story, in part, grew out that process of rereading, so it felt important to give those texts a place in the manuscript. Then because nostalgia, and particularly a nostalgia for stories, is such an important part of the narrative, I looked for opportunities to work in little references to other favourites as well.
What are you writing at the moment? Thanks Margot, and all the best with Neverland. Your next books sounds just as fascinating. These places and further information about them is also given at the end of the books. Beginning or ESL readers are assisted by the simple rhyming text.
A trip to Tasmania sailing away… 10 Ten clocks at the station where we meet for the train. It also enables me to provide more biographical information about some of the poets who are discussed in this handbook. As we have learned from expanding the canon, biography does matter, despite a sometimes programmatic New Critical determination to exclude it from consideration. To the extent that New Critics bracketed biography so as to focus attention on the poems themselves, the effect was salutary.
But we have always kept some biographical differences in mind. Philip Metres reminds us that it makes sense to distinguish between soldier and civilian poets in wartime. It is certainly important to keep in mind that most contemporary American Holocaust poetry has been written by post-Holocaust generations. Most disciplinary histories, to be sure, have omitted such considerations. Petals on a wet, black bough. Passages like these in H. Yet the dynamic psychological torque in this work does not justify assimilating H.
We are not simply in the presence here of a discourse of resplendent or imperiled identity. It hearkens toward an anonymous, sacralized voice, a ritual incantation, in which a transgressive otherness breaks through the discourse of identity. We cannot choose between such readings in H. What is clear, however, is that we cannot cast her poetry in the mold of disinterested description. That becomes even clearer in some of her mythological poems. It describes the anger some in the culture feel now that women are not simply beautiful objects.
The stiff, broad outer leaves; p. Also appropriately linked with Imagism, if once again idiosyncratically, is the early work of Wallace Stevens — Yet Stevens had actually committed himself to writing poetry before taking a position with the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company; the job was a way to earn a living. He began publishing poems in magazines in , but his first book, Harmonium , did not appear until The book was organized to open with a number of his short, exquisite lyrics, rather than with the longer and more abstract poems that have become the focus of extended critical analysis.
Although Stevens lived and worked in Connecticut, a number of his poems drew on the Florida landscape he saw on regular business trips:. Debates both with the world of public events and between contrasting philosophical or cultural positions occur throughout the poems. In the case of Imagism, therefore, we have a founding movement in modern American poetry that is richer and more diverse than we have been inclined to think.
But what if there are alternative beginnings that literary historians have largely ignored? One major preoccupation for American poets has been race, the p. In the standard account of modern American poetry, the issue animates the poetry produced during the mid-nineteenth-century abolitionist debates but then largely disappears until the Harlem or New Negro Renaissance of the s.
Yet the twentieth century began for many Americans with a debate precisely over race, and poets were a vocal part of the conflict. In , Morrison I. An Anti-Imperialist League met in Boston in November , but such sentiments were swept aside in widespread national enthusiasm for this first overseas adventure. Literally hundreds of prowar poems were published in newspapers across the country that year. Some 4, Americans and over , Filipinos would eventually die in a war that became increasingly brutal as it shifted from large-scale battles to guerrilla tactics.
Late in public sentiment shifted against the war. By then, antiwar poetry would open out into a mass movement. Here is Swift, in the midst of the Philippine war, borrowing some of his diction and rhythms from Shakespeare and speaking in the persona of President McKinley. But Swift also reaches back and forward to indict the whole history of imperialism as a form of sanctified racism:.
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To ground their arms? But the poem readily challenges more recent imperialist ventures as well. Part of what is so startling about the poem is the contemporaneity of its insights. The knowledge that racism underlies and underwrites international relations is knowledge we often suppress. Apparently it must be relearned by each generation. American poets had earlier protested slavery. Now some began to realize racism was also a component of our international adventures. There were several interesting volumes by other poets as well, but the most notable anti-imperialist anthology is, no doubt, Liberty Poems , issued by the New England Anti-Imperialist League in June There are a number of reasons to remember the moment of and to give it a place in a history of modern American poetry.
It holds a key position in a year history of American poets writing about race. It helps us recognize that the history of American antiracist poetry is itself multiracial. Finally, as I shall argue later, it is with poems protesting racism and political repression that American modernity comes to an end in the s. So the moment of helps frame the first half of the twentieth century in a particularly instructive way. That makes for a different and quite unconventional starting point for a history of modern poetry.
Yet the longstanding consensus about what poetry most mattered—the best that American poets had thought and said—still stands as a reference point for every effort to rethink and deepen our heritage. For decades, the single most defining moment of American modernism was taken to be the publication in , by an American then living in London, of T. Part of what The Waste Land did was to establish collage as a central technique of modern poetry; it also placed radical formal experimentation at the forefront of modernist technique.
It was not the first work to adapt visual collage to a literary text. Eliot was one of many major modernist writers to yearn for a mythic synthesis remaining out of reach. In a surprisingly short period of time, The Waste Land became the preeminent poem of modernism, the unquestioned symbol of what was actually a much more diverse movement. Eventually, as its shadow came to hide other kinds of modernism—from more decisively vernacular language to poems strongly identified with race or revolution— The Waste Land gathered a set of compensatory ambitions and resentments.
Meanwhile, the poem itself remains available to be reread. Its mix of multiple voices, its fusion of personal anguish with historical experience, its fragments of narrativity, its riveting imagery and layered allusiveness: At the same time that experimental modernism was under way, however, other American poets were dramatically transforming traditional forms. Robert Frost — regularly worked with traditional forms, using rhyme, meter, and regular stanzas, but he undermined every consolation we might have been led to expect from regularity. Frost cultivated his public image of a New England sage, and the poems, read carelessly in search of platitudes, often seem to support that view.
That the voice is so crisp, folksy, and pithy only adds to the underlying sense of terror. Over and over again the poems drain human choices of any meaning, yet they do so in straightforward images, p. Meanwhile, rereadings of Frost continue. The centrality of revolutionary changes in traditional forms, however, is especially clear in the transformation that two poets—Claude McKay — and Edna St.
Vincent Millay — —worked in the sonnet. Raised in Jamaica and familiar with the history of English poetry, McKay chose the sonnet as the vehicle for his shock and rage at the racism he encountered when he came to the United States. His work gets attention here from Karen Ford in her major rereading of twentieth-century African American poetry, but it also gets repositioned by Timothy Yu as a notable example of transnational poetry.
Haunted by a past they never knew, exiled to an impossible present, blacks in America may be doubly imperiled. They exist apart from the ordinary social space of lived time and yet are urgently endangered. McKay took the romance and the consolations of the historical sonnet and replaced them with a hand grenade of protest. Together with Millay, whose antiromantic sonnets positioned the form in an about-face, McKay reconceived the meaning of a centuries-long tradition. This sort of dramatic rethinking of gender relations in fact takes place across both rethought traditional forms and innovative experimental ones.
Loy concludes that all the values embedded in masculinity and femininity are perilous and destructive. As the sequence begins, the speaker has already failed at conventional romance—steeped in all the drama of stereotyped emotions—and opts instead not for unreflective animal sexuality but for something like a verbally inventive biological union.
Some critics have concluded that these are images of degraded lust; they seem instead to be antiromantic but celebratory. Pound was at once the impresario of high modernism—promoting the work of those contemporaries he admired, among them H. Decades later he would leave The Cantos officially unfinished, but for all practical purposes complete, a major poem sequence torn between utopianism and bestiality. Born in Idaho and raised in Pennsylvania, he earned an M.
But he remained interested in America for years and put himself in direct conflict with his country during World War II. No one save Pound himself is likely to have at hand both the range of classical references and the unconventional economic and cultural theories he cites. Pound himself is effectively the only reader fully prepared to read his poem. For The Cantos is history as Pound saw it; to some degree the poem sequence is also history as he participated in it, albeit in a modest but unforgettable way.
The poems are replete p. Moreover, as Pound looked over history he decided that all the arts were at their best when allied with absolute political power. He made such an alliance himself in Italy, and The Cantos repeatedly urges it on us as one route to a new Golden Age. None of this makes the poems easier to deal with, but none of it makes them less critical to understanding modern culture or human temptation either. Pound was initially contemptuous of Adolf Hitler; instead, Mussolini was his contemporary hero.
Pound sometimes called President Franklin D. Meanwhile, from time to time he tried to persuade American troops that they would lose the war. For an American citizen to give aid and comfort to the enemy in the midst of a declared war is a capital offense. When Pound was captured by American troops in he was headed toward a U. The likely verdict was not in doubt, but a group of friends intervened and had him declared insane. It was a ruse, because he was no more insane than some millions of Germans who shared his beliefs, but it kept him alive. The price he paid was to be confined to St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, DC, from to Despite this anguished history, The Cantos remains the primary model for an ambitious American poem based on collage and historical and literary citation.
It has also, as Peter Nicholls points out here, proven influential because of its elaborate mix of rhetoric and musicality. Poets at the opposite end of the political spectrum from Pound, including Charles Olson and Robert Duncan, were deeply influenced p. The Cantos are richly conflicted texts—at once lyrical and polemical, visionary and demonic—that well reward the investment required to read them carefully.
It is possible also to identify what amounts to the spine of the sequence, a selection that highlights the entanglement of aesthetics and politics, that emphasizes the compromised ambitions that make the poem compelling reading. Canto 9 presents the fatal allure of aestheticized power that would haunt Pound for the rest of his life. They concern Sigismundo Pandolfo Malatesta — , a famous condottiere Italian leader of mercenary soldiers , military engineer, and patron of the arts.
Malatesta grew up in the age when Italian city-states, formally subservient to the Pope, warred with one another and competed for power and papal recognition. Malatesta became Lord of Rimini, Fano, and Cesena at age 15, but he would have to defend his domain for the rest of his days, and his means were sometimes ruthless.
Yet he also patronized poets and painters who often took Malatesta himself as their subject and employed the greatest artists of his day to design and build a temple at Rimini. He is the prototype for Pound of a leader who kills with warrant in the service of a purported ideal of achievement; Mussolini for Pound would be a contemporary Malatesta.
Toward the end of the war, Pound thought the Tempio had been entirely destroyed. Yet it is not the only major strain in experimental American poetry. The major figure in linguistically experimental modernism, the inspiration to a whole generation of poets in the second half of the century, is, without question, Gertrude Stein — Born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, Stein studied art and medicine before moving to France in and establishing what would become a famous Paris salon. By the end of the decade Stein had met her lifelong companion and collaborator, a fellow American expatriate named Alice B.
Increasingly influenced by the visual arts and by experimental modernism, Stein wrote both recognizable narratives like Three Lives and playful experimental texts like Tender Buttons In her experimental mode she was arguably the most radical and forward looking of all modernists. Yet it may be the only fully realized and rigorous deconstructive poem in American modernism.
Can the poem, the title implicitly asks, be about patriarchal poetry, or is it to be an instance of patriarchal poetry? The parameters of that question are immediately ruptured. A critique of patriarchal poetry cannot be mounted from a position outside it. The only strategy for demolition is a defamiliarizing burlesque from within: Using witty and strategically staged repetition, variation, and rhyme, Stein exposes hierarchical and gendered biases built into the most unassuming usages.
Repetition short-circuits the expectation that words and phrases can function as neutral syntactic units and frees us to recognize patterns of semantic association that all language carries with it in use: Repetition and variation let Stein place a variety of words, phrases, and concepts under philosophical and cultural pressure, so that all the components of a statement are shown to be permeated with the assumptions of patriarchal poetry.
This technique also isolates and decontextualizes words and phrases, seeming at first to turn them into unstable echolalic nonsense, but thereby severing them from their syntactical functionalism and making it possible to see them as counters in a p. On the other side of nonsense is the worldview that patriarchal poetics continually reinforces: Patriarchal poetry is the poetics of unreflective reason and order, of officious segmentation and classification—often to comic effect: Patriarchal poetry and venison on Wednesday Patriarchal poetry and fish on Friday Patriarchal poetry and birds on Sunday.
So she works by indirection. But the poem does have signal moments of disruption and revelation. Equally—and relentlessly—experimental, though, like other modernists, in her own distinctive way, is Marianne Moore — Born in Kirkwood, Missouri, and raised in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Moore shared a house with her mother all her life, much of it working at a series of jobs in the New York area, but always focusing on writing. Notably, her use of quotation in her poems is as elaborate as that of T. Eliot, but to quite different purposes.
If Eliot aimed for magisterial allusiveness, Moore aimed for something more complex and subversive, to model the cultural constitution of knowledge and understanding. Her poems braided of multiple sources are, at their most ambitious, social and philosophical investigations of great subtlety. It actually moves centripetally and centrifugally at the same time, treating marriage not only as a site on which individuals and the culture as a whole act out their contradictory investments in independence and community but also as a figural resource that informs p.
Marriage in the poem is effectively thus both victim and purveyor of illusions within the culture. But the Moore canon is expanded still further here, as Linda Kinnahan takes a fresh look at other early Moore work and Al Filreis makes an extended case for her late and often belittled poetry.
A Century of Innovation: American Poetry from 1900 to the Present
The Waste Land was just over They are both dwarfed by The Cantos , but all of these works exemplify the modern American interest in the long poem that is formally and verbally experimental. Born in a small Ohio town, Crane — grew up in Cleveland. He faced continual difficulty and much stress supporting himself and he had to rely on relatives and a benefactor. Widely considered both an aesthetic triumph and a highly successful technical project, Crane reasonably takes it as a symbol of American ambition and spirit combined. Like her poem, too, it creates a unifying myth out of the most resistant materials.
At the end, Crane saw little hope for his own; at only 33 years old, he jumped overboard from a boat returning from Mexico and drowned. Unlike Crane, from the outset, Rukeyser — , whose work is a touchstone in several of the chapters that follow, was at once a political activist and a visionary. At times, as at points in The Book of the Dead , — , those qualities were intensified and in those moments she was simultaneously a revolutionary and a mystic. But to grasp the forces that drive her work—through a career that spanned five decades of American history—we have to come to terms with a visionary impulse rooted in time, embedded in a struggle with lived history.
For she understood early on what so many Americans could not: Politics is not only the large-scale public life of nations. It is also the advantages and inequities and illusions that make daily life very different for different groups among us. Thus, Rukeyser understood that race and gender are integral parts of our social and political lives.
The Book of the Dead is one of the major poem sequences of American modernism. A great many workers died of lung disease as a result. Rukeyser was born and raised in New York City. During the s she regularly wrote for Communist Party publications like New Masses. Although The Book of the Dead is self-evidently an ambitious experimental long poem, it is usually omitted from accounts of American modernism.
There is little question why. Because The Book of the Dead is one of the highlights of our most pervasively radical political decade, the s, and many scholars, steeped in the anxieties of the cold war, have preferred to ignore this most overtly political poetry. As the Depression deepened in the early s, large numbers of Americans, including both young and established writers, Rukeyser among them, were increasingly drawn to the Left or to the Communist Party. There was a widespread conviction that capitalism had failed, that the old order could not be restored, and that only the most thoroughgoing social and political change could bring about social and economic justice.
A number of active poets had already been writing from that perspective in the s. Not only agriculture but also the entire rural economy had remained depressed throughout the decade; moreover, several major industries were already in recession before the stock market crash of Especially in the South and in depressed areas in the north, working-class and labor poets, along with poets affiliated with socialism, had been writing about economic inequities for years. Subcultural traditions of protest poetry stretched back into the nineteenth century, and some of the poets in those traditions felt themselves to be not only individual voices but also participants in movements for social change.
Two hundred years of racial trauma are driven full force into this line, word poem. It asks a contemporary American reader to understand the black man as the Christ of our time. Of course the archetypal black victim is the product of rape, especially the white rape of a black woman, for then the white father can repress his paternity by murdering his own son. It is a poem that calls out to waken the world and change it. For a brief moment in American literary history, writing poetry became a credible form of revolutionary action. Poetry at once gave people a radical critique and a visionary aspiration, and it did so in language fit for the speaking voice.
It strengthened the beliefs of those already radicalized and helped to persuade some who were not yet decided. It was thus a notable force in articulating and cementing what was a significant cultural and political shift toward the Left. To write poetry under these conditions of readership was therefore to ask not only what one wanted to say but also what other people wanted to read; the sense of audience was pressing, immediate.
A revolutionary poem in a magazine or newspaper could be taken up and used by an audience only days or weeks after it was written. When such poems offered readers politically committed speaking voices with which they could identify, moreover, the poems were in a sense a gift to prospective readers, a text whose authorship was inherently transferable.
To publish a poem that might prove politically persuasive was, in effect, to ask readers to live by way of these words as if they were their own. The mass audience for poetry in the Depression was, paradoxically, one of the triumphs of a time of widespread suffering. To begin to understand what it meant to be a poet on the Left in the Depression, it is necessary to extend that recognition to the whole cultural field and accept it as a general paradox that typifies life in that period. Hand in hand with hunger and unemployment and the many difficulties of everyday life went a sense of impending revolutionary change.
For those poets who participated in the mass movement of the s, the period combined sometimes desperate hardship with something like utopian exhilaration. To write poetry was not only to comment on these cultural processes but also to help shape them. And you were not alone. Down the street, across town, and in towns and cities across the country other poets were contributing to the cultural climate in much the same way.
The author of the letter, Felipe Ibarro, may well have been a journalist or a social worker or perhaps simply an activist, so the letter is not the direct testimony of the workers described but reported testimony that is already self-consciously rhetorical. Nonetheless, it offers one interesting version of this distinctive s genre. It is worth comparing the opening two paragraphs of the letter with the first three stanzas of the poem.
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