#ANZLitMonth, Aussie drama, Australian poetry, Cloudstreet, Kathryn Lomer, Kim Forrester, literary magazines, Maria Takolander, McLeod's Daughters, Reading Matters AZN LIt Project, Sandra Thibodeaux, small presses, Stuart Cooke, Tracy Ryan
Home to 23million, Australia is a land of diverse peoples and landscapes. As the continent dips into winter, start your summer off right with a slew of steamy Aussie drama and a stack of good reads.
Streaming free on Hulu.com, McLeod’s Daughters tells the story of feisty half-sisters Claire and Tess who are reunited by their father’s death and now must, after 20 years apart, work together to keep the family cattle property up and running. Strong women and hot “blokes,” what can go wrong!
Also streaming free is the TV dramatization of Tim Winton‘s bestselling novel of the same name. Cloudstreet spans the 20 year period 1943-63 and tells the story of two working class families in Perth. I’m told that there are several discrepancies between the show and the book, but I have yet to dig into the text. Perhaps I will post on that after my library loan arrives.
If you run across some new terms (like “rack off,” “stuffed up,” and “ute”) during the viewing, head on over to the Australian Word Map for some fun with regional slang.
Then get your pen out and put together a reading list from the #ANZLitMonth tweets and Kim Forrester’s very good, very detailed posts on the Reading Matters blog. But be sure to check out the interlibrary loan program at your local before you blow your book budget on purchases.
Poetry is going to be a bit harder to find, unfortunately, so commit to purchasing a few titles. Here’s a handful that I recommend:
Dirty H2O from Mulla Mulla Press
Night Writing from Univ. of Queensland Press
My palomino reached fourteen and a half hands
when I turned fourteen and a half.
Then came the breaking-in,
ribs too narrow for comfort, stride skittish,
Boys came to ride with me,
their names like ripe berries,
and long hair tied in ponytails.
We tracked over spitting summer paddocks,
horses sweating under us,
swatting flies with sharp tail-thwacks.
fear of the tilting earth thrilled us.
Always an element of danger:
the bolt, the buck, the roll.
We rode boundaries,
leaving fencelines behind for bush,
pretending to adventure.
Sometimes we rode to the pine forest,
where needles lay like a mattress on forest floor
and hushed everything.
Sometimes, resting, we fished for yabbies.
When the boys had gone
my mother and I washed my horse
with the carwash brush and a hose,
my mother in slacks,
my face half-hidden behind loose long hair.
I would learn this act had the intimacy
of knowing a man’s body,
skin rippling under touch.
My hands were all over him:
I picked up his hooves gently,
hooking out the sour scent
from a tender frog,
amazed at the soft secrets within horny feet.
Curry comb, brush, hay and oats:
this is how I learned to care for another,
the looking-after love requires.
Nicknamed Shandy for his colour,
he had a smart breed name –Tshinta,
something exotic, an otherness I desired.
I would whisper the foreign syllables
into his twitching ear,
nuzzle the velvet lips,
cry into his unkempt mane for want of friends.
I pictured him wild on a faraway plain
galloping with his mob
like the stallion in Wildfire.
In winter he paled and grew shaggy.
Summer gilded him; he glowed,
a muscled sun.
The vet came and cut out his testicles.
I remember the hard bite
on the moon of my backside
next time I picked up his hoof.
The bruise flowered on my young skin
for seven weeks.
The End of the World from Giramondo Pub.
Unearthed from Fremantle Press
Edge Music from Interactive Publications
To be a Cat Curled
Loss is days
the traction of years deflating
so that a man, once a pearl in a dark mouth,
becomes sound’s flat plane.
The beating heart is corrosion,
Each mumbling moment.
Each frozen, irretrievable One.
Headlines could be the only things that matter;
the rest is just flesh, flow,
This sense that everything’s
the same and what I see – in the way
a tree emerges or an emu speeds – are the tips
of the freezing.
How to keep pace with the sun?
Never to falter. To be a cat curled
in the corner of a doorway, smiling dreamily.
Can the dream of shade
moving further out across the grass
ever be reconciled
with this tightening stiff of the gut?
On that note, how to follow a poet’s letters
to the memories of childhood
upon the streaked darkness, through which
I perpetually, always
without seeing, fall?
Find more great reading at these…