Gayelene Carbis, in her second collection I Have Decided To Remain Vertical, pushes ideas and images beyond autobiography into that slightly surreal, sometimes whimsical, often heartbreaking territory of the poem that sings even as it laments, that can bring artfulness and authenticity into communion, and balances itself on a knife-edge of irony. These poems are as raw and real as they need to be. One of the most heart-tearing poems in Carbis’s first collection was the one titled, “This is What Happened”, and her new collection is as honest and riveting as that poem was, because always with Gayelene’s poetry you know, and feel, what happened and what is happening. With each poem in this new book I find that “I hover on the first step then wade right in” and discover that inside each poem “I hold the colour of the sky / in my arms, and swim”
Navigating gendered-based oppressions and freedoms with skill and daring, Gayelene Carbis’s second collection is a joy to read. Spoken with an assurance of voice, these brave works are sharply observed. Were it not for their compassion and poignant humour, the poems could break your heart. A deeply engaging collection from an award-winning poet.
I Have Decided To Remain Vertical, Gayelene Carbis’s second collection of poetry, is an unflinching, acerbic meditation about the way we live now. The humour is black, the tropes are deft, her voice is assertive but never shrill. There is beauty here in this book, as well as a clear-eyed knowingness.
“I Have Decided to Remain Vertical is beautifully placed as a collection; it rewards reading from start to finish… continuing the meditations and reactions to social life that were the focus of Carbis’s Anecdotal Evidence…displaying an intense interest in material things and material places; engaging with works of art beyond its own pages”
CHRIS ARNOLD, Australian Book Review
“I Have Decided to Remain Vertical is unlike any other book of poetry that I have ever read…Carbis’s poetry entertains, it makes you think, it allows the reader to see that other people go through life battling similar issues about relationships with family, lovers, or friends, the everyday and the mundane…Carbis breaks literary rules like a pro, creating work that is humorous and pithy.”
BEATRIZ COPELLO, Compulsive Reader
“I Have Decided To Remain Vertical is an exhilarating extension and intensification of some of the major themes of Carbis’s first collection Anecdotal Evidence…revisiting the penumbra of relations; the contradiction between word and gesture; the magnetism of the loving body while the erotic body feels cancelled in its relegation to mere companionship, and the fearless probing of domestic anguish in the wake of paternal carelessness…the synaesthetic power of this whole collection that lends us such imaginative embodiment: eyes for the colour of the sky and arms to swim with.”
MARION MAY CAMPBELL, Mascara Literary Review