Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Review of Another from Reading Time
"Perhaps there is no place more barren or bleak than a new subdivision on the edge of suburbia where no one but the poor would want to live. Toby's girlfriend Suzie is pregnant but doesn't know it yet. The tiny foetus is the novel's ocassional first-person voice, with a connectedness to the ghosts of the past and future. Beneath the concrete and tar were once trees, animals and a poisoned swimming-hole where Aboriginal children floated dead into the arms of their wailing parents. The unborn child is the sole flicker of hope in Another, with a will to live and love of its life-to-be.

"Suzie, on the other hand likes the idea of suicide, but it mainly content to cut herself with a razor, carving away all the ugly memories and forming careful patterns. She likes scars, and she like Toby for his scarred back, badly burned as a child. Toby does a bit of stealing and likes the sensation of striking an unconscious man's head repeatedly with a metal bar, for the unfamiliar feeling of power; an expression of the helplessness in his tormented past.

"Another is a brutal novel, full of violence and hatred. Yet everything about it is true and clearly recognisable, from daily news reports if not from one's own life. The characters are on a descending spiral and Joel Deane seems to know them better than they will ever know themselves.

"People like Toby and Suzie might never pick up a book to read, and they don't want to know or care what others think, but the rest of us need to know what makes them that way. Another is a book for young adults who love words put in the right order, often poetic, telling a shocking story with a profound clarity of voice and vision." - Margot Nelmes, Reading Time

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Subterranean Radio Songs review in Thylazine
"Joel Deane's free verse is direct and seemingly simple. What layers it possesses are of the emotional type. He doesn't hit us over the head with grim reality; rather he insinuates it into the reader's psyche in a way so artful that it appears artless...

"The poem 'Good Friday' (p.14), in four parts, introduces the nub of the collection, a child that is stillborn, whose ghost haunts the text, even the travel poems. Its second section, 'Residua', describes the pathos of packing up the waiting cot and putting it in the garage; in the third section, 'Postmortem', the poet and his partner debate the 'whys' of the situation. The poem ends abruptly with the devastating 'In Utero', a cremation scene, in which the fire becomes the welcoming womb for the stillborn baby: 'The womb of the incinerator / now holds you / at nine-hundred degrees / centigrade'. But this is not the end of the story. On page 20, the poem 'I build a little house where our hearts once lived' describes Deane's attempts to reassemble his life, to 'remake rooms I cannot find'. As an evocation of grief, it's hard to go past these heartfelt pieces...

"There are many fine poems in Subterranean Radio Songs, but they work best together as a collection, allowing us insight into the thoughts and feelings of a grief-stricken man seeking healing and understanding by jumping feet-first out into the world." - Liz Hall-Downs

Read the full review

Friday, June 01, 2007

Kris Hemensley's launch speech for Subterranean Radio Songs

Kris's speech is, as usual, bristling with critical ideas an insights about the world of poetry:
"Joel writes, 'There is no country. Only family.' This epigram informs the major structure of Subterranean Radio Songs: the family, history, Australian place of the 1st half, South; and North, in which the poet-narrator is travelling abroad in the USA & Latin America, in Britain --an acutely felt & observed travel-diary but one constantly interjected by the concerns, the Angels & Demons of Family.

"In a way it's all there in the first poem of the book, "The Bridge at Avenel." The crossing of water, the grave that water can be, the lure of crossing, the necessity (and I'm thinking now of the poetic rather than the economic or political necessity) --the necessity of crossing. In this poem Joel Deane states, "I cannot find a way across" because of the particular reasons for that poem. But the poet will --and certainly will attempt that crossing again & again in his career --a career begun tonight with this collection." - Kris Hemensley

Read the full speech