Po­ets write of prisons,

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books -

Physick is the lat­est po­etry col­lec­tion from Tas­ma­nian aca­demic, ac­tivist and poet Pete Hay. It is shot through with a fierce in­ten­sity and a ver­nac­u­lar that flies off the page. It has been pub­lished, some­what au­da­ciously, and some­what as a re­flec­tion of larger pub­lish­ers shy­ing away from po­etry, by mi­cro pub­lisher Shoe­string Press in Bri­tain.

At the re­cent launch in Ho­bart, Hay mar­velled that a pub­lisher on the other side of the world would pick up the book, one so steeped in Tas­ma­nian-ness. He was con­cerned that no one out­side the is­land would un­der­stand it. This is far from true, speak­ing more to the hu­mil­ity of the poet. These po­ems sing of hu­man con­di­tion.

The cap­ti­vat­ing Death Song for Matthew Brady was in­spired by an elu­sive ref­er­ence the poet found to a death song sung as bushranger Brady was hanged in Ho­bart in 1826. Sound to the World con­sid­ers the plight of women alone in the pe­nal colony Van Diemen’s Land: “I will keep a ju­r­nal this is the ferst day. / It will parse the time I hope. / The man Devlin down the Turnip Feldes he gose down the town/ he give me pa­per and this stubb of pen­sil. / I dont in­tirely trust the man.”

The book is rich with throaty con­vict and con­tem­po­rary Tas­ma­nian nu­ance. It cap­tures the lives of Tas­ma­ni­ans past and present. Some of the lan­guage, par­tic­u­larly in the first sec­tion (of three), is for­eign-sound­ing and of a dif­fer­ent time but the po­ems tran­scend any need to un­der­stand the ver­nac­u­lar or lo­ca­tion-spe­cific ref­er­ences.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.