joanne burns’ poetry collections include apparently, shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Poetry Awards, footnotes of a hammock, joint winner of the Judith Wright ACT Poetry Prize, an illustrated history of dairies, shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Poetry Award, amphora, and brush, which won the 2016 NSW Premier’s Poetry Award. Her poems are studied in high schools and have been produced for radio and theatre.
96 pages Paperback, 21 x 14.8 cm Published April 2019 ISBN 9781925818093
The poems collected in apparently appear like visions, intensely experienced but barely real. Where does a poem come from? Over four sections this question is considered. The first section gathers poems spring-boarding from the clues and solutions to crossword puzzles; the second recounts unsettling dreams in the form of prose poems or microfictions; ‘dial’, the longest section, acknowledges the bewildering sense of daily time and the dizzying spectacle of social and worldly matters contained within. Finally, from a more restful or relaxed vantage, ‘the random couch’ presents a number of drifting poems, written while the poet was lounging on the sofa.
96 pages Paperback, 21 x 14.8 cm Published October 2014 ISBN 9781922146717
The title of Joanne Burns’ new collection brush highlights the reader’s first experience of a poem, its initial electricity; and the way the poem offers a surface of words that proceeds to reveal their possibilities or intentions. The central sequence ‘road’ is an animated display of the fashions of being in contemporary life – these poems are cheeky, playful, mercurial, surreal. Then there is the sequence called ‘bluff’, which excoriates twenty-first century financial culture with bite, hilarity and a sense of the absurd. There is a section devoted to personal memoir, including a five-part poem featuring Bondi beach, and a suite of memory fragments depicting twentieth-century modes of travel. The final group of poems, ‘wooing the owl(or the great sleep forward)’, explores the night, sleep and dreams, with their strange tones and surprising perspectives. There are 80 poems in the collection, most of them short, stressing the compressed pleasure that only poetry can offer.
136 pages Paperback, 21 x 14.8 cm Published May 2011 ISBN 9781920882631
The poems in amphora seize on the miraculous moments contained in life and language, interrogating them with scepticism, celebrating them with a comic sense of wonder. Their focus ranges from the magical exploits of saints recalled from the poet’s Catholic childhood in the opening section ‘ichoria’, to her variations on the Zen koan, customised as koannes, in the sequence ‘streamers’, which both mocks and appreciates the wisdom of paradox, to the accidental ‘out of the blue’ poems in the final sequence, ‘this week, next week, the week after’, which strike ‘domestic beatitudes’ from balloons and shoulders, dolls and stains and chairs. From such common things, from familiar words and phrases, and from the unfamiliar too, Burns draws attitudes which define a way of living – gladness, openness, curiosity, acceptance, and above all sensual delight, in the abundance of the world’s offerings and the possibilities of language: ‘may the polysemic flower bloom’.
112 pages Paperback, 21 x 14.8 cm Published October 2007 ISBN 9781920882228
Joanne Burns’s strongest collection yet offers a range of styles, from condensed narratives which tilt towards film, airport novels and science fiction, to poems in prose that read like personal or reflective essays, to short elliptical verses, almost haiku, which open the details of domestic or city life to large and dramatic perspectives.
Her poems are often comic: but darker tones infiltrate their private and public landscapes. The surreal quality of their imagery, and Burns’s often oblique line of attack, take the reader to ‘a dairy at the edge of the mind’ unlike any dairy with real cows one is ever likely to encounter.