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Tracy Ryan: a note on Rose Interior
Tracy Ryan reflects on Rose Interior (April 2022), her tenth full-length collection of poetry.
I’ve lived in many different places and houses, and many of the poems in Rose Interior focus on how you make a relationship with place. In recent years those places were Ireland and Switzerland, where I have distant yet strong family and emotional connections, and Australia. The poems look at all these from both inside and outside.
Sometimes the interiors are literal: hearing noises in a creaky house you’re just getting to know, or worrying about a leak in the ceiling. Those become images of psychological states. Sometimes they are symbolic: childhood memories, the mother-of-pearl on the inside of a shell my mother used for holding her jewellery. Or the knitting through which she created an outside to embody the inside of each child’s personality in a very big family.
Wherever home lies, it’s always on borrowed time – a house rented from strangers overseas, or the lease we seem to hold on our own lives. Our first home is the mother’s body; our individual space is always enmeshed with another person’s. We begin our lives connected, however isolated we might become, and several poems in this book dwell on the effects of the maternal bond, its duration and its apparent end, trying to find meaning in loss.
So the poems explore the domestic, but not only. Interiors suggest exteriors. This book is also about the outside world, its flora, including Rilke’s rose that provides the title, and its fauna real and imagined. How we interact with them – our care, or lack of care, for places and people – affects the way we grapple with global warming and other huge challenges. The last part of the book delves into schooling at home, as a kind of inside response to the outside. Warmth and safety, or unbearable confinement, stable or on shaky foundations – home is a word charged with contradictions on both sides, and that paradox for me makes poetry.