Rosemary Nissen-Wade: Aussie poet and teacher of metaphysics – a personal view
My bestie nicknamed me SnakyPoet on her blog, and I liked it. (It began as
'the poet of the serpentine Northern Rivers' and became more and more abbreviated.)

Monday, May 17, 2021

MY MOTHER AND THE CAT by Jeltje Fanoy

 Get Caught Reading Month




Today I could have been caught reading MY MOTHER AND THE CAT, a recent chapbook of poetry by Jeltje Fanoy, an old friend and colleague from my Melbourne days. It was published last year by Melbourne Poets Union.

Jeltje's family migrated from Holland to Australian in the sixties. The poems indicate various effects of such relocation, as well as of her parents having gone through the Second World War in Holland –  matters of great interest to me, as my late second husband Bill Nissen's family migrated to Australia from Holland (in the fifties) after experiencing the war years there. Bill's father was in the Dutch Resistance; I discover that Jeltje's was too.

I don't mean to imply that the book is only of interest to those who have a personal connection to that background. Jeltje's poetry always presents specific details in a way that engages a wide variety of readers. In this book she has created vivid portraits and scenes. Born in 1939 myself, I recognise some familiar experiences, e.g.

Kitchens


were still separate spaces

in the houses we grew up in


the table in the dining room

rarely set, or the room heated


it felt like a tomb in there


the lounge room, too, was like some faraway

place where no-one cared, or dared to sit


more like a museum space

displaying artefacts, my Mother


making us sit and eat in the kitchen



and I relate very well to her opening question in Wars:



Wouldn’t you like

to send the bill


for the effect of World War 2

on all of us, to somebody?



Yes I would! (Those of us who were not in Europe were still affected in many ways. Food rationing, absentee fathers, dead or damaged sons, brothers, cousins, neighbours....)


Other experiences could not be more different. For instance, I myself have never migrated to another country. I've lived my whole life in the country of my birth. Yet even when she's talking of things very particular to herself and her family, Jeltje allows me to enter into them.


Jennifer Harrison in the back cover blurb mentions the 'observational clarity' of the poems and 'the poet's mastery of tonal immediacy'. They are certainly some of the qualities which endear these poems to me. There is also a rich background of the (discernible) unsaid, masterfully handled. 


She excels at direct, accessible language; yet I think Jeltje is a very sophisticated poet – without being the least bit pretentious. It's been lovely to catch up with her work in this book.

Thursday, May 06, 2021

More Intisar Khanani

 May – Get Caught Reading month + Short Story month.


I can still be caught reading YA Fantasy by Intisar Khanani, really really good stuff. Have now enjoyed The Theft of Sunlight, the sequel to Thorn, and am both feverishly disappointed and utterly delighted to find this will run into a second book, not yet available. Also found two excellent short stories as separate parts of this series: Brambles and The Bone Knife. Now am about to catch up with her previous series, the Sunbolt Chronicles: Book 1, Sunbolt and Book 2, Memories of Ash. All found on Kindle.


Monday, May 03, 2021

Intisar Khanani

Discovering a new author I love. (New to me, and newish altogether.)


I'm told May is Get Caught Reading Month and also Short Story Month. At present you can catch me reading the fantasy novel THORN by Intisar Khanani, which I stumbled across while checking out something else, had a quick look inside, grabbed, and have hardly put down since. (It's probably also Young Adult, a genre I always like.) I see there is a prequel in the form of a short story, which I'll be getting next. And this author goes straight onto my list of 'Read Anything/Everything By.'