Poetry boots ‘n all

NADIA RHOOK, Andrew Sutherland and Bron Bateman are all appearing at BeSpeak for Poetry Month. It’s at Freo.Social in Parry Street, Fremantle on August 25 from 7pm. Also on the bill are Scott-Patrick Mitchell, Talya Rubin, Elfie Shiosaki, Pidj Flavell, Slylar J Wynter, Zen Dogg, Timmah Ball and 2022 poetry ambassador Sisonke Msiman, plus live music with Tanaya Harper. It’s free, but book at www. eventbrite.com.au/e/bespeak-wa-poetry-showcase-2022-tickets-380142976877

ANDREW SUTHERLAND’S book, Paradise (point of transmission) is a collection of queer poetry that engages with his lived experience as a person living with HIV. 

“The collection situates my personal history within mythologies, cultural histories, horror films and science-fiction, and in doing so the poems form a trajectory that spans seroconversion and diagnosis, to the legal and cultural ramifications of medicalised bodies and my departure from my residence in Singapore, where I trained and worked as an actor, to experiences of desire and stigma as well as toward attempts at writing the sustained living with HIV in ways that go beyond the trauma of diagnosis or the notion of tragedy,”  

This is Sutherland’s first book and debut poetry collection, drawing from a lot of varied experiences of illness and as a “queer human being”.

Sutherland also has a decade of arts practice in theatre and performance as well as in poetry, prose fiction, creative non-fiction and theory under his belt.

“For some time in the latter half of 2020, I feel like the density and the tone of my poetry started to evolve into something with a sense of humour and greater sense of freedom in the ways that what we perceive of as ‘low art’ can really speak to and interact with poetry and with theory,” he said.

BRON BATEMAN has just released her latest collection of poetry, Blue Wren, through Voice fave Fremantle Press.

It is built around a suite of poems about Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and encompasses a feminist narrative of motherhood, marriage and family. 

Blue Wren is also a representation of illness and disabled embodiment.

According to Bateman, good writing requires “a commitment to writing regularly and with honesty and integrity.

“I want to write poems that are, as Franz Kafka says, ‘an axe for the frozen sea within a person’.”

Bateman has written three poetry collections.

“Each one is a favourite at the time I am writing it, but Blue Wren is my personal favourite as I think it is the most cohesive and mature collection,” she said.

Bateman said the Kahlo poems were the most fun to write as she enjoyed the research that went into making them harmonious with the collection’s themes.

“In the book, there are themes of love and redemption, grief and loss, erotic fulfilment, family tenderness and crip (or disabled) embodiment.”

Bateman says she is currently working on her as-yet-untitled fourth collection.

NADIA RHOOK’S second poetry collection, Second Fleet Baby (Fremantle Press, 2022), draws on the energies of 18th century English convict women, including her own ancestors, to open raw questions of belonging.

“Through stories of childhood, fertility, and of nurturing new life during a pandemic, it casts off the patriarchal weight of history, pulling origins ‘from the seabed to the surface’,” she says.

“It feels timely to share poems about the possibility of colonialism failing, about uncertain futures, and about love. And convict history lives large in Freo/Walyalup!”

Rhook’s first collection was titled boots (UWA Publishing, 2020).

“I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to share work that reckon with my position in the world as a white settler woman,” she says.

“Poetry is a place where I can create my own way of being a woman historian and rest in an authority that comes from sharing my personal (hi)story. 

“Water was important to me as feminist motif in this book. 

“Much Australian literature about colonialism focuses on land, and I also wanted to breathe into the inter-connections between land and water, masculinity and femininity, waves of authority and salt-healed wounds.”

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