Anatomy of Voice – David Musgrave

anatomyofvoice

It happens every so often, I come across a writer who I know is saying so much more than I can fathom, or ever hope to fathom. Queensland Literary Award for Poetry winner, or more specifically the winner of the “State Library of Queensland Poetry Collection – Judith Wright Calanthe Award” a few weeks ago. A work that is divided into four “partitions”, as Musgrave writes in the Afterword, “The division of the work into ‘partitions’ was modelled on Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy, one of the most influential Menippean satires in English.” “The Anatomy of Melancholy” first published in 1621 and considered “one of the major documents of modern European civilization” it was republished in 2001 by NYRB Classics. Menippean satire? Britannica to the rescue;

Menippean satire, seriocomic genre, chiefly in ancient Greek literature and Latin literature, in which contemporary institutions, conventions, and ideas were criticized in a mocking satiric style that mingled prose and verse. The form often employed a variety of striking and unusual settings, such as the descent into Hades. Developed by the Greek satirist Menippus of Gadara in the early 3rd century bce, Menippean satire was introduced to Rome in the 1st century bce by the scholar Varro in Saturae Menippeae. It was imitated by Seneca and the Greek satirist Lucian and influenced the development of Latin satire by Horace and Juvenal. The 1st-century-ce Satyricon of Petronius, a picaresque tale in verse and prose containing long digressions in which the author airs his views on topics having nothing to do with the plot, is in the Menippean tradition. A later example is the Satire Ménippée (1594), a French prose and verse satire on the Holy League, the political party of the Roman Catholics, written by several royalists.

David Musgrave, the poet, completed honours at Sydney University, working on Thomas Love Peacock’s Menippean satires, following up with a Ph.D on Menippean Satire after the Renaissance. Unofficially supervised by Bill Maidment in both endeavours, Musgrave speaks of their friendship in the Afterword, which remained until Maidment’s death in 2005. This poetry collection is “a personal tribute” to Bill, “part meditation on voice, part emblem book, part portrait…’

The First Partition, you open to page one and notice a grey heading “host….guest…ghost” it is leaching ink that has been heavily printed on the reverse of the poem itself (in mirror text of course). The headings alone, read them out loud, use a voice, “bull…bill…boil”, or “warm…worm…loam”, or “ear…ere…air” , twenty-four poems in all. Every one containing the word “voice” and each twelve lines in length (three quatrains).

“Voice” a noun and a verb, these poetic definitions are not of “the voice” or “a voice”, we have the “voice of reason”, “to voice your objection” and so much more.

war        wear      were

In the first world war
an Italian officer
ordered his nearly mutinous men
out of the trenches and over the top

Not one of them moved
After he repeated the order
one of the soldiers called out
‘what a beautiful voice’

I think so too
now that you’ve lost your words
now that I cannot hear you
now that your voice shadows the way

The anecdote used in this poem was taken from Mladen Dolar’s “A Voice and Nothing More”, a philosophical theory of the voice.

The Second Partition, contains ten poems, each presented with an “emblem”, let’s use the opening poem as an example, the emblem taken from “Joannes de Boria Moralische Sinn-Bilder” (1698) for a full copy see pages 38-39 here

emblem

The text of the poem below the emblem is translated in the “Notes” section of “Anatomy of Voice” and reads;

The Short Life

Life’s rising is also its setting
The cradle itself the grave
many die
before they live
Many must farewell the earth before time
The longest life is not a span long.

As Musgrave points out, in the ‘Notes’ section, “As an emblem is considered a whole, comprising image, and any combination of legend, motto, verse and gloss, all have been provided in the original language with translations”.

The Musgrave poem that accompanies the above emblem is;

They come in the dark to those who listen,
the dead and distant, enemies and friends
crowding the silence with their voices
conjured from nothing but parts of the flesh
and bone memory. Prodigal swarms
lost in the labyrinth of the ear
join us to their shuttering selves,
transporting us across space and time
while we remain as we are, alone.

The remaining nine poems in the Second Partition use each of the lines of the above poem as their opening line (poem two opens “They come in the dark to those who listen”, poem three opens “the dead and distant, enemies and friends” and so on). Each of the remaining nine poems being six lines in length.

The Third Partition, consists of fourteen poems of various lengths and styles and contain footnotes taken from three published articles of Bill Maidment’s, or are taken from letters written by Bill or his wife Marcia to their family from Europe. Each of the fourteen poems comes with extensive notes at the back of the collection. For example, poem “6.” Uses quotes from “The Library of Babel” by Jorge Luis Borges’ “Labyrinths” references to the stained-glass ceiling of the Jubilee Room of NSW Parliament, which housed the Parliamentary Library prior to the 1980’s, and uses lines from John Milton’s “Il Penseroso” and Edmund Spenser’s “The Faerie Queene”.

The breadth of styles used here demands slow reading, contemplation, there is a poem containing morse code, with a message similar to the headings in “The First Partition”. I would suggest reading the “Notes” closely and delving into the referenced texts, it added to my understanding and enjoyment, and the poet’s “Afterword” is also a handy reference tool, giving context to the settings.

The Fourth Partition contains a single twenty-four-line poem, a rumination on memories of Bill Maidment.

This is a wonderfully rich and learned collection, scholarly but personal, Musgrave’s dedication to Maidment, an exploration of “voice”, a definition of “voice” in various forms. “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord, hear my voice!” Psalm 130.

Enhanced by the beautiful production with the leaching inks, the reproduction of Renaissance wood-cut engravings of the emblems, original Latin texts, extensive notes, this is one of the highlights of the Australian poetry that has been produced this year. Although I didn’t manage to get to the full shortlist of the Queensland Literary Awards for Poetry, it would have taken something special to have topped this unique collection.

I’ll add a relevant quote that I came across elsewhere whilst reading this collection, although not referenced in the work I think it adds to the definition of “voice”;

Let us paraphrase this to say that the presence of a human voice structures the sonic space that contains it. Michel Chion “The Voice in Cinema”

Queensland Literary Award Winners 2016

wolfanddog

Last night the winners of the Queensland Literary Awards for 2016 were announced. There was one award that was not given, with two “encouragement” awards given instead, and there was one award that was shared. I congratulate the judges for having the courage to not present an award and to split where appropriate. A refreshing thing to see.

Here are the winners of each category.

Queensland Premier’s Award for a work of State Significance

Prize: $25,000

Winners: Not Just Black and White, Lesley and Tammy Williams

Queensland Premier’s Young Publishers and Writers Awards

Two Prizes of $10,000 each

Winner: Emily Craven

Winner: Michelle Law

Unpublished Indigenous Writer – David Unaipon Award

Prize: $10,000

Winner: Paul Collis for Dancing Home

Emerging Queensland Writer – Manuscript Award

No winner, two Encouragement Awards given

Encouragement Award: H.E. Crampton for The Boatman

Encouragement Award: Laura Elvery for The Elements

Griffith University Children’s Book Award

Prize: $10,000

Winner: KidGlovz, Julie Hunt (author) and Dale Newman (illustrator)

Griffith University Young Adult Book Award

Prize: $10,000

Winner: Dreaming the Enemy, David Metzenthen

State Library of Queensland Poetry Collection – Judith Wright Calanthe Award

Prize: $10,000

Winner: Anatomy of Voice, David Musgrave

University of Southern Queensland Australian Short Story Collection – Steele Rudd Award

Prize: $10,000, co-winners awarded $5,000 each

Winner: A Few Days in the Country and other stories, Elizabeth Harrower

Winner: The High Places, Fiona McFarlane

University of Southern Queensland History Book Award

Prize: $10,000

Winner: The Pearl Frontier: Indonesian Labour and Indigenous Encounters in Australia’s Northern Trading Network, Julia Martínez and Adrian Vickers

The University of Queensland Non-Fiction Book Award

Prize: $10,000

Winner: Small Acts of Disappearance: Essays on Hunger, Fiona Wright

The University of Queensland Fiction Book Award

Prize: $10,000

Winner: Between a Wolf and a Dog, Georgia Blain

The Courier Mail People’s Choice Queensland Book of the Year Award

Prize: $10,000

Winner: Swimming Home, Mary-Rose MacColl

Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards and Queensland Literary Awards

Whilst personally I am finding it very hard to find the time to write up blog posts, the literary award scene continues to make announcements so I thought it timely that I bring you up to date with two Australian based awards.

Firstly, the Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards were announced last night, and there are a host of categories. As regular visitors here would know I generally only get to the poetry collections for these awards and I did read the full shortlist (links to my reviews by clicking on the title):

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)

 

guardians

The winners of each category were as follows:

Fiction – The Golden Age by Joan London

Non-Fiction – This House of Grief by Helen Garner

Children’s Books – The Duck and the Darklings by Glenda Millard, illustrated by Stephen Michael King

Poetry – The Guardians by Lucy Dougan

State Library of WA Western Australian History – Running out? Water in WA by Ruth A. Morgan

Young Adult – The Protected by Claire Zorn

Western Australian Emerging Writers Award – Lost and Found by Brooke Davis

Scripts – Dust by Suzie Miller

Digital Narrative – Timelord Dreaming by David P. Reiter

People’s Choice Award – Fever of Animals by Miles Allinson

Premier’s Prize – This House of Grief by Helen Garner

Helen Garner took home $25,000 for winning the Premier’s Prize. Awards are biennial so books published in 2016 and 2017 will be eligible for the 2018 Awards.

The Queensland Literary Awards Shortlists were announced some time ago but the winners will be announced tomorrow so here is a listing of the shortlisted books.

 

Queensland Premier’s Award for a work of State Significance

– Prize $25,000

Nadia Buick & Madeleine King Remotely Fashionable: A Story of Subtropical Style (The Fashion Archives)

Matthew Condon All Fall Down (UQP)

Elspeth Muir Wasted (Text Publishing)

P. J. Parker The Long Goodbye (Hardie Grant Books)

Lesley and Tammy Williams Not Just Black and White (UQP)

 

The University of Queensland Fiction Book Award

– Prize $10,000

Tony Birch Ghost River (UQP)

Georgia Blain Between a Wolf and a Dog (Scribe Publications)

David Dyer The Midnight Watch (Penguin Random House)

Patrick Holland One (Transit Lounge Publishing)

Charlotte Wood The Natural Way of Things (Allen & Unwin)

 

The University of Queensland Non-Fiction Book Award

– Prize $10,000

Madeline Gleeson Offshore: Behind the Wire on Manus and Nauru (NewSouth Publishing)

Stan Grant Talking to My Country (HarperCollins Australia)

Drusilla Modjeska Second Half First (Penguin Random House Australia)

Tim Winton Island Home (Penguin Random House)

Fiona Wright Small Acts of Disappearance: Essays on Hunger (Giramondo Publishing)

 

Griffith University Young Adult Book Award

– Prize $10,000

Will Kostakis The Sidekicks (Penguin Random House)

David Metzenthen Dreaming the Enemy (Allen & Unwin)

Glenda Millard The Stars at Oktober Bend (Allen & Unwin)

James Roy and Noël Zihabamwe One Thousand Hills (Scholastic Australia)

Claire Zorn One Would Think the Deep (UQP)

 

Griffith University Children’s Book Award

– Prize $10,000

Lucy Estela, illustrator: Matt Ottley Suri’s Wall (Penguin/Viking)

Bob Graham How the Sun Got to Coco’s House (Walker Books)

Libby Hathorn; illustrator: Gaye Chapman Incredibilia (Little Hare)

Julie Hunt; illustrator:Dale Newman KidGlovz (Allen & Unwin)

Chris McKimmie Me, Teddy (Allen & Unwin)

 

University of Southern Queensland History Book Award

– Prize $10,000

Vicken Babkenian and Peter Stanley Armenia, Australia and the Great War (NewSouth Publishing)

Stuart Macintyre Australia’s Boldest Experiment: War and reconstruction in the 1940s (NewSouth Publishing)

Julia Martinez and Adrian Vickers The Pearl Frontier: Indonesian Labor and Indigenous Encounters in Australia’s Northern Trading Network (University of Hawaii Press)

Jeff Maynard The Unseen Anzac (Scribe Publications)

John Newton The Oldest Foods on Earth: A history of Australian native foods with recipes (NewSouth Publishing)

Garry Wotherspoon Gay Sydney: A History (NewSouth Publishing)

 

University of Southern Queensland Australian Short Story Collection – Steele Rudd Award

– Prize $10,000

Tegan Bennett Daylight Six Bedrooms (Penguin Random House)

Sonja Dechian An Astronaut’s Life (Text Publishing)

Elizabeth Harrower A Few Days in the Country and Other Stories (Text Publishing)

Julie Koh Portable Curiosities (UQP)

Fiona McFarlane The High Places (Penguin Random House)

 

State Library of Queensland Poetry Collection – Judith Wright Calanthe Award

– Prize $10,000

Joel Deane Year of the Wasp (Hunter Publishers)

Liam Ferney Content (Hunter Publishers)

Sarah Holland-Batt The Hazards (UQP)

David Musgrave Anatomy of Voice (GloriaSMH Press)

Chloe Wilson Not Fox Nor Axe (Hunter Publishers)

 

Queensland Premier’s Young Publishers and Writers Awards

– Two $10,000 awards plus career development support

Emily Craven

Sam George-Allen

Anna Jacobson

Michelle Law

Andrew McMillen

 

Unpublished Indigenous Writer – David Unaipon Award

– Prize $10,000 plus manuscript development and publication with The University of Queensland Press.

Runner up: At the judges’ discretion, up to three writing development mentorships will be awarded to the shortlisted entrants in this category.

Paul Collis Dancing Home

B.A. Quakawoot The Song of Jessica Perkins

Yvonne Weldon 67 Days

 

Emerging Queensland Wrier – Manuscript Award

– Prize $10,000 plus manuscript development and publication with The University of Queensland Press.

Runner up: At the judges’ discretion, up to three mentorships will be offered to shortlisted entrants in this category.

H.E. Crampton for The Boatman

Laura Elvery for The Elements

 

There is also a People’s Choice Award or the Queensland Book of the Year (a public voting mechanism – I won’t comment on my thoughts about those types of awards, considering the judges have already narrowed the list down for people to vote),  Prize $10,000

Nadia Buick and Madeleine King – Remotely fashionable: A Story of Subtropical Style

Matt Condon – All Fall Down

Trent Jamieson – Day Boy

Susan Johnson – The Landing

Mary-Rose MacColl – Swimming Home

Cass Moriarty – The Promise Seed

Elspeth Muir – Wasted: A Story of Alcohol, Grief and Death

Cory Taylor  – Dying: A Memoir

 

Unfortunately I won’t be getting to the full poetry shortlist from the Queensland Literary Awards as my growing pile of unread books is becoming something of a nightmare (even to store), if a work other than Sarah Holland-Batt’s “The Hazards” wins I will do my best to get to that work and review it here (Sarah Holland-Batt’s is the only work on the shortlist I have read and reviewed already, and although I haven’t even sighted the other collections, this would be a very worthy winner of the poetry award, as I said in my review back in July “A very rich collection, like the hummus in the forest at the feet of all the trees that appear, this is rich in styles, language, imagery and experience.”

 

I do have a few books I have read and written extensive notes on so I would like to review them here in the coming weeks, depends on how to find some time!!!