Po­etic provo­ca­teur

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books -

Ma­chines, as an ob­ject of consumption: ‘‘Give me a lever large enough — / a cos­mic fork or skewer — and I would move it / to a ta­ble: its sher­bert fizz of surf, / the creamy ice-cones of its toothy alps, / the spice of is­lands dot­ted here and there / like cloves jammed in an onion.’’

This reads like a play­fully writ­ten Arcim­boldo por­trait of our bio­sphere, but it is also a forked metaphor, given our ob­ses­sion with foodie TV and the un­nerv­ing ex­tremes of weather we are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing as a re­sult of our modes of consumption. So, a white mid­dle-class male records his plea­sure in ogling, then de- vour­ing, the earth. Mmm, that’s kind of grotesque, right? Or, at the very least, thought pro­vok­ing. It is of­ten the case with Goldswor­thy that we re­ceive a men­tal pic­ture crafted with sen­sory ex­act­ness while si­mul­ta­ne­ously won­der­ing whether we like what we see.

This first poem is per­haps worth con­tin­u­ing with as a way of discussing such ten­sions within the book. It goes on: ‘‘Turn­ing / this com­mon dish as slowly as a day, / I’d sam­ple the swee­tand-sour river deltas, / the swamps about its world wide waist, / all of which smell fishy. As do many maps / of Tas­ma­nia, most of them in

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