Ling Toong Reviews Jones & Hamlyn

In Jill Jones’s collection, The Quality of Light and Other Poems, ageing, mortality and memory are intensely private experiences that expand like ‘the nerve system of creeks leading into / the Torrens, or the oily wash / of Sydney Harbour’ to planetary dimensions, enfolding animals, city roads, streets, flowers, plants, bees, the skies and the galaxy into the rich particulars of its vast realm. Jones’s superb collection reinvigorates poetry as a quality of illumination amidst all kinds of opacity, sparking affective and rhythmic conversations between literature, politics, ecology and cosmology. Her poetry engages and enacts what T S Eliot called the ‘auditory imagination’, ‘the feeling for syllable and rhythm, penetrating far below the conscious levels of thought and feeling’. Deftly elliptical, suggestively insistent, and exuberantly introspective, The Quality of Light articulates the pleasurably enigmatic rhythms, tones and cadence of urban and modern existence.

Cary Hamlyn’s second collection, Ultrasound in B-Flat and Other Poems, sketches everyday sightings, objects and experiences; to name a few, the eponymous ultrasound, a lovers’ quarrel, a Burmese train journey, Siamese fighting fish, a dying pelican, sunflowers, night. The stand-out piece in the collection for me was ‘Rozelle Boarding House for Sailors’, which cleverly engages the conspiratorial atmosphere and architecture of the haunted boarding house to convey the sense of the resurrection, renovation and reclamation of histories through storytelling: ‘In each single room their lives unwind, / each a story spun within a story – / as if every old tragedy or joy / were reinvented by the next man,/their thousand lost ships/still silently listing under our beds.’ The story of masculinity here is a poignant and complex one; the voiceless anonymity of the lives of the drowned sailors distances and abets their poetic (re-) construction, thus carrying with it an expressively equivocal force…

http://cordite.org.au/reviews/toong-hamlyn-jones/

 

 

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