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‘Alison Croggon's bold new collection, Theatre, uses a range of narratives, fables, monologues and compressed lyrics to examine female identity and the idea of divine experience. Stepping confidently between different registers and a wide range of forms, Croggon's poetry shows a writer at the height of her powers narrating a female world of folk tales, trials, challenges, transgressions, and mythologies, where rites of passage are both linguistic, spiritual and political, and where persona is stripped back to an essential humility always journeying into fragile and impossibly beautiful worlds.’
‘Alison Croggon's poetry is distinguished by passion, intelligence and an intense moral honesty that does not consist of statements about things, or a drawing up of attitudes to this or that, but of a commitment to understanding the ways poetry – the language of poetry – enables us to understand. We have, as she says, "perfected the technologies of harm" and will most likely carry on doing so. But the same prose poem, 'History' goes on: "In unguarded moments I found myself longing for the dazzling conceits of civilisation to be actual, for the profound and bloody pleasures which underlay them." The marvellous sequence that ends the book, 'Translations from Nowhere' itself ends with "an eyelid / snapping open, dazzled, full". That fullness and that dazzling characterise all the work.’ —George Szirtes
‘To the mere spectator, it might appear that in this ‘Theatre’ the poet is delivering her lines. She is not! This is a theatre in which there is no script, no actors, no representation. It is a place of first principles, born from, and belonging to, the poet. From her stage there come no answers, indeed, no questions. The latter are for you to ask yourself when you realize and understand the complete lack of pretence in her words.
– if I have been asleep’ –
And like Alison Croggan, responsibly, I also want to wake up, remove my masks, my costumes, and step out into the generative presence of real life. Clearly, it is the poet’s language that allows this. She knows that the spotlight is never on the stage but, rather, on the audience: Her art’s only illumination is what it illuminates in you!
’ —M.T.C. Cronin
‘Theatre is the apt title for such poems. Alison Croggon is gifted with a rare capacity, negative capability: not so much, as for Keats, one that allows the poet into the life of the sparrow on the gravel, but a capacity to feel her way into the voices of others, from Iseult or Sor Juana to the uncanny, unhomed voices of “Translations from Nowhere”. But as with the best theatre, it is Croggon’s care for language, its singularities and its musics, that makes these poems inimitable. Through it all, an unmistakable note is sounded, wrapping through the many voices the tones of joy and desolation, water and wind on stone.’ —David Lloyd
‘Alison Croggon has from the beginning of her career demanded attention (gaining an entry in The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature, 1994, on the strength of one book). She is one of the most powerful lyric poets writing today.’ —David McCooey, Australian Book Review
‘One of the most assured of a new generation of Australian poets... Her work is remarkable for its technical awareness of earlier poets... There is always a strong physicality about her writing... a constant feeling of lyrical sensuality.’ —Geoff Page, A Reader’s Guide to Contemporary Australian Poetry
‘Croggon continually surprises and delights with an almost eerily fresh outlook on events and emotions. Never is this poet more intriguing and enigmatic than when she moves into more esoteric poetic landscapes... Her startling imagery and unique word combinations inject a sharp twist to the ordinary. [She is] at the very forefront of modern Australian poetry. She remains a uniquely-voiced, assured writer very much in control of her craft.’ —Ian McBryde, ArtStreams
‘Despite the increasing prominence of poets such as Peter Boyle and Peter Bakowski who have the same love of metaphor and a comparable level of rhetoric, Alison Croggon is now, with this second book, an even rarer voice in Australian poetry than she appeared to be in her first, This is the Stone. With Croggon there is always a strong sense of the female – in the love poems, the poems for her children and more generally. There is almost always a powerful appeal to the senses of touch and smell, even while she is being intensely metaphysical.’ —Geoff Page, Canberra Times
‘In these poems, there is a feeling of being in a world without end, without resolution, albeit with much love; and in the way of dreams, it gets you in.’ —Helen Harton, Imago
‘This is not a bleak book. The ‘stubborn voice’ is restless, impatient, exploratory – attuned to bedrock reality. Poems are often carried forward by sheer rhythmical energy and, if the nature of the anguish that often informs them can be hard to pin down, it’s because anguish is seen as a price of being alive when emotions are strong.’ —Andrew Sant, ABR
‘It is in the supra-personal realm that these two most interestingly experimental poets [MTC Cronin and Alison Croggon] of the experimentalists seem to be going. Their lyric "I" is not the often vapid, dull but clever "I" or lack of it that often prevails in some curiously passive male poetry. Both Cronin and Croggon accord with Tielhard de Chardin who, in The Phenonenon of Man, states: "To be fully ourselves it is ... in the direction of covergence with the rest that we must advance – towards the other"... [They have] a poetic voice flexible enough to avoid the fixity and biographical connection that makes the first person problematic. ... These poets transcend sexual difference. They also transcend the lyric "I", not by defusing it in a polymorphous voice, but by being innovative in a different way from the American Language poets. They accept the solipsism of existence and the consequent emotive authority of the self as the traditional core of what constitutes poetry. Yet they are profoundly liberated from the oppressive politics of the narrow self.’ —Patricia McCarthy, Agenda
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