26 September 2023

Sun Music: New and Selected Poems

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

By Judith Beveridge, Giramondo Publishing, $26.95.

Judith Beveridge is an award-winning poet whose writing can be kaleidoscopic, often baroque, but it’s also grounded and focused. It successfully binds emotion to structure, image, cadence and diction.

It’s easy to see Judith is drawn to poetry because it has “rich texture, and by this I mean poetry that is distinctly metaphorical, detailed, musically complex, but also clear”.

Sun Music brings together poems published over a 30-year period from Judith Beveridge’s collections The Domesticity of Giraffes, Accidental Grace, Wolf Notes and Storm and Honey. It begins with an introduction by the poet, outlining the contours of her writing, and ends with a gathering of 33 new poems. It includes the delicate elegy, giving this collection its title, which is one of several where the poet turns to more personal territory.

Nature has partly been an abiding source of connection for her because the “natural world didn’t make demands on me to speak to it, so I found much solace and quietude there. I also found that turning to literature and the written word gave me intense pleasure”. Her main areas of interest have been the natural world, human character and places and, of course, on many occasions these concerns have intersected.

Judith has developed a novel relationship with verbal communication. “Poetry is always inevitably an experience in language because how sensuously, seriously or strenuously words may evoke the world – they are never the world.”

It’s an art: how emotion can be dynamically yoked to form and sound. With joyous fluency and formal mastery, this compilation draws the reader into an “electrifying encounter with language, guiding us through its flexure and torsion, its exacting grace”.

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