Radiance – Andy Kissane – 2016 WA Premier’s Literary Award (Poetry)

The Western Australian Premier’s Literary Award shortlist for Poetry for 2016 is:

Dougan, Lucy The Guardians Giramondo (2015)

Holland-Batt, Sarah The Hazards University of Queensland Press (2015)

Kissane, Andy Radiance Puncher & Wattmann (2014)

Maiden, Jennifer The Fox Petition Giramondo (2015)

Malouf, David Earth Hour University of Queensland Press (2014)

And today I look at the fourth collection from the list, Andy Kissane’s “Radiance”. Section I, opens with a Seamus Heaney epigraph, and then the poem “Flight” a lyric effort, warming you immediately to a connection to the natural world. We have the cold, (the bitter cold), breeze, sand dunes, grasses waving, migrating humpback whales, unnamed endangered species, simply close your eyes, take away your spatial connection and take flight. Yes lyric indeed. A number of the poems melancholy reflections on animals, with the regret of wild species in zoos making an appearance and then more worldly travels with child street vendors in Phnom Penh, children picking over garbage or suburban reflections, driving to an ice-skating rink, or crippled workers, or simply attempting to take a catch in cricket. The subject matter is varied.

Section II features eight poems, all using the three-line stanza format, whether 30 or 42 lines, all dedicated to other poets like Keats, Shelley, Thomas, Woolf and each poem containing a pervading theme of death.

But we them move immediately to poetry firmly rooted in the reality, section III, poems about poetry, the importance of poetry as a weapon, very much like the volume “Load Poems Like Guns: Women’s Poetry from Herat, Afghanistan”, edited and translated by Farzana Marie, a collection I reviewed earlier this year, with the following quote from the Foreword;

…poetry, with its symbolic language, is being explored and effectively used as a powerful means of protest against gender discrimination and injustice…

In “Radiance” we have the poem “Against Forgetting” subtitled “Poetry Reading Kabul, 1999”, this was the period under Taliban rule where reading, public performance of poetry was strictly controlled, if not banned.

…We arrive one after the other, aware of the danger, keen to keep our ears, our tongues. But we will not forget the line of Rūmī and Hāfez. We meet to read their poems, to breathe the air our ancestors breathed. The known and unknown mingle. How to describe this joy; this wonder that fills our minds, while our hearts break, yes, break open.

Moving through to the description of poets as “those/whose blood is thick and cold with unfulfilled ambition” in “The Bluetongue as an Answer/To the Anxiety of Reputation”.

The collection closes with the poet’s relationship being transferred from a woman to ‘the moon’. Opening with an epigram from Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer-Night’s Dream”; HIPPOLYTA: Well shone, Moon/Truly, the Moon shines with a good grace.

I remember the young poet who was heckled at a festival for suggesting we should save the environment, instead of wasting our time writing pastoral poems. You have to ask, what work is this poem doing, what use is it to anyone? –          From Moon Rocks

Closing with poetry that is very much rooted in the current age, realist creations, prose poems that read simply and are not cluttered in shape or form or rhythm.

At Lake Mungo we stay in an Eco Lodge that aims to harmonise with the environment, yet offers outback luxury. perfect for those who want to experience the natural world they’ve lost touch with, yet still enjoy the warmth of electric blankets, log fires and mulled wine. –          From Home Comforts

Very much a poet after my own heart, with lines like that.

A readable and enjoyable collection, yet another worthy inclusion on the Western Australian Premier’s Literary Awards Shortlist, which is turning out to be a very strong list this year.

Tomorrow I will be back with the final review from the shortlist, Sarah Holland-Batt’s “The Hazards”.


2 thoughts on “Radiance – Andy Kissane – 2016 WA Premier’s Literary Award (Poetry)

  1. Pingback: Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards and Queensland Literary Awards | Messenger's Booker (and more)

  2. Pingback: 2016 WA Premier’s Book Awards shortlists | ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

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