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’.


Print ISBN : 978-1-920882-63-1
pp : 136
May 2011

Joanne Burns is a writer of poetry, prose poems, short fictions and monologues. Her most recent collection is an illustrated history of dairies (Giramondo 2007). Her collection  footnotes of a hammock, was joint winner of the 2005 ACT Arts Judith Wright Award. Her work has been widely published, taught in high schools, broadcast on radio and television, and performed for theatre.

View the Joanne Burns: Online Archive