Rendition for Harp and Kalashnikov

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Product Description

Finalist for the 2018 Melbourne Prize for Literature. 

This new collection extends themes taken up in The Wind-up Birdman of Moorabool Street (2012). Environmental degradation and theme park notions of the natural endure. Accordingly, these poems reflect with tenderness, anger and irony on the ways humans chronicle, construct and war upon their natural environments. ‘Rendition’ puns on the idea of a song lyric, translation, surrender and also torture. In the anti-pastoral, anti-war poems offered here, groups of human beings and individuals are also shown as either tragically marginalized, lost or held too close. Cautionary ecocritical threnodies splice with personal elegies and historical cultural reflections to suggest a world awash with maladies of different kinds, as if to say that human beings must recalibrate love, death, survival and history as matters of urgency.


“It’s very much part of what makes Johnson an interesting poet that what looks like an opportunity for a fairly straightforward moral condemnation of the way technology, admittedly impressively, takes the natural world and recreates it as a destructive force should turn out to be interlaced with so many metaphors about the writing of poetry that it may well be a statement of ars poetica. It’s especially interested in the nature of authorial intention and control, questions which are always interesting in the consideration of any art but especially poetry.” MARTIN DUWELL, Australian Poetry Review

“With Johnson as its accomplished composer and conductor, this poetic duet performs a score of discord and harmony, expressing humankind’s paradoxical capacity for cruelty and deep tenderness, played out in theatres of war, society, family and belief. Johnson wields her poetic material as weapon and as propitiation: in each poem can be detected the redemptive glissando of the harp, and the bitter retort of the machine gun.” MAGS WEBSTER, TEXT