Joanne Burns



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

About the Author

Joanne Burns’ most recent collections are 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, and amphora. Her poems are studied in high schools and have been produced for radio and theatre.