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Like This ranges over a number of subjects and uses a variety of forms. There are poems about the Australian outback, visual art, London suburban life and the odd – creatures, people and places of the imagination. ‘What if?’ can be thought of as an introduction to questions that are tackled by this writer in ways that are inventive and accessible.
Some of the poetry related to art is concerned with perception while most of it is about the sense of strangeness artists feel when as work progresses, they find they have stepped over into that world of their evolving sculptures and paintings and the art objects themselves have taken on lives not dissimilar to those of their makers.
Most of the poems about growing up in the Queensland bush are set in the period in the 50s when tracts of land were still being settled, when graziers had to house their families in tin huts and tents and everyone had to contend with floods, dust storms, rat plagues and isolation. The writing, through crisp and sensitive descriptions of the landscape, people and animals, is evocative of the drama brought about by these extreme conditions and by the colour and wonder of it. Other poems in Like This use fish looking through windows, cream cakes, a strawberry fruit gum, Calamity Jane just for the sake of it or, looked at another way, as metaphors for something.
‘Diana Pooley has more than her own style – she has her own world. It lives alongside our own and in many ways is our own but through her inimitable tone that is both detached and conversational, it comes into a bright, oblique reality of its own.
This is a poetry that has little time for poetics. The writing is spare, particular, illuminating. It allows quite brilliantly for the odd streak of lyricism so that, as with many of her last lines, just as we feel we might be heading for a fall we are in fact lifted higher than we could have imagined.’ —Greta Stoddart
‘Like This is the fruit of a startling visual imagination. A shape-shifting writer who can move from full colour sketches of the outback in the 1950s, to unsettling snaps of art world curios, to fabulous mindscapes of unconvention, Diana Pooley has gathered all this into a warming and pleasing first collection which deserves wide attention.’ —Roddy Lumsden