The Jaguar by Sarah Holland-Batt

I’ve been blogging for more than a decade (oops, forgot the blog’s tenth birthday) and up until this year, I have not reviewed any poetry. Because I don’t read poetry. It’s not that I don’t like it, it’s more that I’m not in the habit of seeking it out. However, inclusion of poetry in the Stella Prize meant reading Big Beautiful Female Theory earlier in the year, and more recently, The Jaguar by Sarah Holland-Batt (which incidentally, won the 2023 Stella Prize).

The titular poem comes midway in the collection and, despite what you might expect (and what the image on the cover suggests), the poem is about her father’s car  –

A folly he bought without test-driving,
vintage 1980 XJ, a rebellion against his tremor… Continue reading

Stella Prize 2023 Longlist Reading – Big Beautiful Female Theory by Eloise Grills

Defying genres, Big Beautiful Female Theory by Eloise Grills is part graphic memoir, part essay collection, part poetry, part comic book. The theme that runs through the illustrations and text focuses on self-image and the female body and its depiction in art and popular culture. Continue reading

The Book of Malcolm by Fraser Sutherland

Canadian poet, Fraser Sutherland, documented his son’s life with schizophrenia and his sudden death in a posthumous memoir, The Book of Malcolm.

…every day that week was difficult; each had the potential to be the hardest yet.

Sutherland’s memoir is divided into three parts – the first tells of the weeks following Malcolm’s death; the second is a chronological account of Malcolm’s life, including Sutherland’s recollection of memorable family moments; and the third describes Malcolm’s diagnosis with schizophrenia and his subsequent experience of the mental health system in Canada. Continue reading

Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts

01. We went to a party last weekend and the theme was ‘Miami Nice’. We went as retirees (Florida is the home of retirees, right?). I found the most amazing vintage palm-print muumuu on Etsy which I’ll probably wear on Christmas Day for the next forty years… it’s comfy, cool, fabulous.

When researching our outfits, I came across this fabulous collection of photos. Continue reading

Andrew Sean Greer at the Wheeler Centre

We got off to a fabulous start when host Benjamin Law noted Andrew Sean Greer’s striking leather pants and asked, “Who are you wearing tonight?” Andrew obliged – the pants were bespoke, made for him in Paris, and his striped blazer was purchased in Milan on a post-Pulitzer spending spree. For those who had not read Andrew’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Less, this exchange may have seemed farcical, however, those familiar with the character of Arthur Less immediately knew they were in for an entertaining evening (bespoke clothing occupies Arthur’s time in Paris). Continue reading

The Green Bell by Paula Keogh

Sometimes when I’m reading a book I find that a particular element of the story resonates very deeply. It’s usually an element that isn’t the main theme of the story and therefore catches me off-guard.

Such was the case with Paula Keogh’s memoir, The Green Bell. It’s essentially a story about Keogh’s experience in a psychiatric unit of the Canberra Hospital in the 1970s. The events leading up to her admission (notably the death of a very close friend), what happens when she is there (she meets and falls in love with poet, Michael Dransfield who is being treated for drug addiction), and her life after hospital is the guts of Keogh’s story.

There’s no way out after all. I turn around and make my way back to M Ward. I’m worthless, pared down to nothing. I’ve come to the very end of possibility. Continue reading