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Human Looking

100 pages
Paperback, 21 x 14.8 cm
Published October 2021
ISBN 9781925818857

Human Looking

Andy Jackson

A ground-breaking insight into the experience of disability, from a distinguished poet who has lived with Marfan Syndrome, including severe spinal curvature, and whose poems give voice to those who are often treated as ‘other’ or alien. 

The poems are visceral and intimate, they comfort and discomfort at the same time – empathy for the other seems to falter, only to expand and deepen.

The poems in Human Looking speak with the voices of the disabled and the disfigured, in ways which are confronting, but also illuminating and tender. They speak of surgical interventions, and of the different kinds of disability which they seek to ‘correct’. They range widely, finding figures to identify with in mythology and history, art and photography, poetry and fiction. A number of poems deal with unsettling extremes of embodiment, and with violence against disabled people. Others emerge out of everyday life, and the effects of illness, pain and prejudice. The strength of the speaking voice is remarkable, as is its capacity for empathy and love. ‘I, this wonderful catastrophe’, the poet has Mary Shelley’s monstrous figure declare. The use of unusual and disjunctive – or ‘deformed’ – poetic forms, adds to the emotional impact of the poems.

Brutally honest, without a whiff of self-pity, Human Looking illuminates our bodies and all that is beautiful and difficult about them. These poems have heft, lyrically and emotionally, yet they soar.
Christos Tsiolkas

Jackson puts himself on the line in a way few poets dare, and his vulnerability and fierceness are transformative. That’s why he is one of the best – most necessary, most powerful – poets in Australia today.
Maria Takolander

These poems exist as wounds, as ‘perfect riddles’, as desire, as song…looking closely at what we consider to be wholeness and beauty, and their imperfect, sometimes hidden counterparts.
Eileen Chong

Compassion is, and has always been, the distinguishing feature of Andy Jackson’s work…[a compassion which is] hard-won rather than casual; unflinching rather than sentimental.Geoff Page, The Australian

Book launch

Thursday 18 November, 6.30pm AEDT

Join Andy Jackson in conversation with Jill Jones as they discuss Jackson’s latest collection of poetry, Human Looking. The event is free and streamed live online. Register on Crowdcast to reserve a place. View an excerpt of poems for the event.

About the Author

Andy Jackson

Andy Jackson’s first collection, Among the Regulars, was shortlisted for the 2011 Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry; in 2020 his collection Music Our Bodies Can’t Hold was shortlisted for the John Bray Poetry Award. He has featured at literary events and arts festivals in Ireland, India, the USA and across Australia, and has co-edited disability-themed issues of the literary journals Southerly and Australian Poetry Journal. Andy Jackson works as a creative writing teacher and tutor for community organisations and universities.

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Related News

Andy Jackson: a note on Human Looking

There are two ways of saying ‘human looking’; one with a hyphen, the other with a comma. In other words, these poems are about how we judge others to be human yet not-quite-human. They’re also about the humanness of the gaze, the vulnerability of the person doing the looking.

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Our new-look poetry series

“Whilst designing, I seek to decipher meanings in abstract visual configurations in response to the literary work, as well as to determine how abstract an image can be and retain meaning for others.”

— Jenny Grigg describes the process for designing Giramondo’s new-look poetry series.

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