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Review, Writing and poetry

BOOK REVIEW: home{sic}

HOME{SIC} by Julie Beveridge

Another Lost Shark, 2012

Review by mr oCean

Home is not always the place you come from. Sometimes it’s not a place at all, but a feeling that gradually grows inside you. Julie Beveridge’s new collection, home{sic}, takes us on a journey between those states. Admittedly, seeing it this way may have been coloured by my own recent experience, but for mine, that’s what good poetry does: it makes you feel connected, as though the fragments of life it describes could be your own.

Thinking about how to describe Beveridge’s work had me thinking about Being John Malkovich; I have yet to find a poet who better manages to place you in a moment behind someone else’s eyes (however unfamiliar that moment might be). In a roughly chronological sequence, she takes us from being adolescent, killing time in Launceston, to being a pregnant woman savouring a moment on a distant shore. On the way, we pass through what feel like defining moments — the kinds of change that, if life were a machine, would physically clunk into place.

Where her previous collection, Home Is Where the Heartache Is, explored deep domestic shadows, home{sic}has a sense of transformation about it. It feels personal, although without reading like a diary. Anyone who has caught one of Julie Beveridge’s readings will be pleased to see her characteristic wit and critical eye still meeting her subject matter head on. But here, there is also a kind of affectionate playfulness at times. It’s a good balance of light and shadow.

The forms in home{sic} are predominantly free, but the structures that evolve work well. The unpunctuated prose poems, seven into even and i don’t want to go down to the basement, took some getting used to, but give a fantastic sense of being in someone else’s head. The recurring motifs of song for san francisco, tea for sunday and dundarave pier respectively evoke the chanting quality of some of the Beats, memory and resolve, and a playful poke in the ribs.

What struck me most in this collection, though, were the landscapes in the first few poems. Far from being impersonal, incidental details, the landscapes here are charged with memory, like when you hear a song and remember exactly where you were when you first heard it, and how the air felt, how it felt to be opening your young eyes on a life you were just starting to grow into. Although the focus is closer throughout most of the book, Beveridge’s scene-setting is consistently strong.

By the end, home{sic} leaves us nomads with a sense of reassurance, of home not being so much about place as about relationships.

MR OCEAN is a performing poet and occasional musician who will be first on the list of suspects if Brisbane ever suddenly develops a cool climate. misterocean.wordpress.com

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About Zenobia Frost

Zenobia Frost is a Brisbane writer. Her work has been published in Voiceworks, Overland, The Lifted Brow and The Guardian. Her debut poetry collection, Salt and Bone, is out through Walleah Press. @zenfrost

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  1. Pingback: Review of home{sic} by Julie Beveridge | Another Lost Shark - November 19, 2012

  2. Pingback: Review of home{sic} by Julie Beveridge « The Electric oCean - November 24, 2012

  3. Pingback: The next big thing (for me anyway) « pied hill prawns - December 29, 2012

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