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Time and motion are undercurrents in these new poems by Sarah Day. Her subjects encompass the commonplace in the Australian landscape: the remnant beak of a raven, tree shadows in urban streets, industrial cranes and mowing-machines, as well as the exotic or peculiar: the world seed bank in Norway, artefacts in Pompeii, Graeco-Egyptian funeral portraits, the landscape paintings of John Glover, the Earth as seen from elsewhere in the Milky Way. These poems, individually and collectively, invite questions about the enigmatic nature of past, present and future.

“These masterly poems follow ‘the traffic of ideas from the known world’, travelling along cultural trajectories—from the ancient waters of Mareotis to the glimmering port of Hobart—to arrive at a ‘radiant in-pouring’ of dawn: ‘a casual, brilliant right of entry’. Tempo showcases Sarah Day’s imagination in exuberant bloom. Her poems are philosophical, lustrous and deserving of wide praise.”

—Bronwyn Lea

“Sarah Day is clearly a poet who matters, one with the gift of being able to transform the world we know.”

—Veronica Brady

“Sarah Day’s poems… enable me, the reader, to recapture the lost intensity of my own perceptions. And the words are chosen to detonate differently each time I come to rest on them.”

—Robert Dessaix


“In Italian, tempo means ‘time’, and this grand notion is the main theme of Day’s most recent collection. However, as a comparison with earlier titles such as A Madder Dance and Quickening tends to suggest, the word ‘tempo’ can also imply a ‘change of pace’. As it turns out, many of the poems are about the slowing down that accompanies any steady human maturing past the age of fifty, as well as the increasing sense of vulnerability such a change brings.” SIMON PATTON, Australian Book Review (paywalled)

Tempo is…borders and crossings, the dimensions of time, stasis and movement, the near and the far (an issue of perspective), and outline (abstraction) and substance…it’s the underlying consistency – thematic and structural – that makes entering the world of Sarah Day’s poetry so satisfying. And its concerns…are classically humanist.” MARTIN DUWELL, Australian Poetry Review 

“This sense of the superimposition of past and future onto the present, of the simultaneous coexistence of all time, is an abiding theme in Sarah Day’s new collection, Tempo.” STEPHEN EDGAR, Rochford Street Review