With the year swerving to an end, it’s time to have a look back at some of the most exciting poetry collections released in 2011. First up, I have asked QLD Poetry Festival Director, Sarah Gory, to share her pick of the year:
Remember wild nights out ‘til dawn where the freedom was so palpable it was more than recklessness – you actually were invincible? Or the sheer glee of playing in the back garden with the skipping-rope water hose in the heat of summer?
Michelle Dicinoski’s first collection, Electricity for Beginners, captures with absolute clarity the intensity of feeling wrapped up in moments and memories such as these. A motley assortment of poems about love, about stealing grass, hanging prayer flags, riding bikes up hills, children in shopping trolleys, listening to frogs in floodwaters.
The clarity and ease of expression in each poem makes the collection accessible, almost familiar. The language is fresh, but never clichéd or tired. It is full of snapshot images that are quintessentially Brisbane – late summer storms, tongue and groove houses, yellow cabs, eucalyptus sap. Yet the sharp breath of emotion evoked in these vignettes is not bound by geography. The sentiment is universal.
My favourite piece in the collection is Such Riches, an ode to the beauty of details, a reminder that our riches are living entities, that they are already our own:
“If anyone should ask, tell them / bluebottles, cuttlefish, sea glass / and wild raspberries that charge / blood for fruit. Tell them / drunk on ten dollars and kissing the dawn.”
Above all, the poems in Electricity for Beginners are both intimate and soaring, a reminder of why small moments leave indelible memories. The strength of the collection is that it inhabits the everyday in a way that is far from mundane. Through Michelle’s eye, even a driving lesson becomes transcendental:
“Every time I find that point, he fills / me with joy as he says / deadpan: Now give her some exhilaration. / And up, up, up she goes.”
Electricity for Beginners is published by Clouds of Magellan (2011) and can be purchased directly through their website.
Sarah Gory is a reader, writer, and cultural producer. She is Manager of the Queensland Poetry Festival and Acting Programs & Services Manager at the Queensland Writers Centre. Prior to moving to Brisbane she was Manager of the National Young Writers Festival and worked at Oxfam Australia. You can find a random collection of her thoughts and photos at unworkability. The language is fresh, but never clichéd or tired.