Diane Fahey, ‘The Wing Collection’ in The Australian

Graceful rhythms of wings and sea

Bonny Cassidy reviews Diane Fahey's The Wing Collection in The Australian Jan 21, 2012


For the best part of a century, Australian poetry has been vexed by the question of writing country: who can describe our complex landscape and how to live in it? Diane Fahey and Stuart Cooke, poets at different points in their careers, have each released books that keenly respond to their experiences as writers working on Australia's coastal fringes. What each sees from there and how they represent it, however, is markedly different.

Fahey is one of our significant feminist poets, but The Wing Collection is a reminder that she has also established deep and sustained inquiries into what she calls “the tremendous drift of things” — notably, birds and the environment of Barwon Heads in Victoria. With eight books of poetry concentrated into this volume of new and selected poems, Fahey's work cannot be reduced to a single theme, although the sonnet has dominated its form.

The book's sequence is inspired: grouping new poems and generous selections from her books into broad themes rather than chronological order. This refreshes her oeuvre by inviting the reader (and, presumably, the poet) to draw lines of exchange between the preoccupations of her early and later poems. The book arcs from Fahey's poems about birds, to spiritual art and mythology, and alights in the final two sections on the domestic and marine sites of her life and writing.

Bonny Cassidy

Read this review in The Australian

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