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The Drama Student

96 pages
Paperback, 21 x 14.8 cm
Published March 2023
ISBN 9781922725394

The Drama Student

Autumn Royal

Intense, dramatic, theatrical – an important new poetry collection which draws its strength from its confrontation with grief and mourning.

As its title suggests, the poems in Autumn Royal’s The Drama Student explore theatrical responses to life. And in particular, the staging of the emotional life. The subject, a student of experience, and a writer with an uncertain future, feels her vulnerability and dependency. Grief is paramount among her emotional responses, provoked by hauntings of violence, the death of loved ones, the failure of relationships, the disappointment of her aspirations. The great fear: ‘I am threatened / with an exceptional ability and no means / of expression.’ The theatre provides those means, the expressive gestures, the subversion of typecast roles, the transformation of domestic objects into props for the performance of self, and the richness of language. Royal’s use of the elegiac form offers no answers, only the hope of tearing open conventional understandings of loss and insecurity, as it invokes a tradition of women poets and thinkers.

SHORTLISTED: QLD Literary Awards – Judith Wright Calanthe Award for a Poetry Collection 2023

Cleverly conceptual, The Drama Student elucidates the complications of relationship, aspiration, rejection, and grief. Autumn Royal’s adroit irony performs a critique of the patriarchal tendency to downplay the emotional in art. The final epic ‘Soliloquy’ is a signature culmination of the book’s poetics, with its citational techniques augmenting a nuanced feminism.
Queensland Literary Awards, judges’ comments

Mined from experiences of love, loss and mourning, Autumn Royal’s poems appear shining…Each poem is an event, and the poet watches it unfold, splitting into both observer and observed…Royal directs attention to our own culpability as actors in a calibrated performance. This book is from an emerging voice already mature.
Mani Rao

Autumn Royal is unafraid to spark light in the darkest of places.
Maria Takolander

Royal’s actress-protagonist, who may or may not be a care-worker, a ghost, or Valerie Solanas, is lyrically, forensically exact as she stalks the crime scene of her own exclusion and orbits the centre of the frame in which she has yet to appear. And yet, in the periphery, a femme, florid, floral alternative keeps edging impudently into view. …This poetry suggests there exists a garden where actress, assassin or poet may warm her ghostly hand upon the flushed camelia, where the most loyal fans among us soon may gather for the final, spectacular act.
Joyelle McSweeney

Weird and thoughtful reflections on what it means to adopt a role, and what that might mean for the construction of self…[The Drama Student is] accomplished and interesting…from a poet with a distinct way of expressing her perspective.
Chris Arnold, Australian Book Review

About the Author

Autumn Royal

Autumn Royal is a poet, editor and teacher based in Naarm/Melbourne. Her current research examines elegiac expression in contemporary poetry. She is interviews editor for Cordite Poetry Review, founding editor of Liquid Architecture’s Disclaimer journal, and author of the poetry collections Liquidation, She Woke & Rose and The Drama Student.

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SHORTLISTED: QLD Literary Awards – Judith Wright Calanthe Award for a Poetry Collection 2023


Triple R – Literati Glitterati: Interviewed by Mel Fulton

PoetrySays: Interviewed by Alice Allen (2022)


Cordite: published poems

Red Room Poetry: poetry readings

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