Review: Joanne Burns’ apparently

7 June 2019

“no smooth or smart enjambments”
Joanne Burns’ playful sentences and stanzas in apparently.

Joanne Burns: apparently
Giramondo Poets, 2019.
ISBN: 9781925336993, pp.72, $24.00

“I can hear your bones clicking
you are somewhere out there
in the etheric brambles but
your name is so outdated you
will need a new one” (4).

When I found apparently on the desk of the Farrago office and was incredibly grateful that one of the editors said that I could review it. The warm yellow cover is inviting, and Ben Juers has made something beautiful. Reading the blurb, readers are lured into Burns’ question ‘Where does a poem come from?’ When I read that her poems are often satirical, I was worried that they would not be for me, but within this collection there is something for everyone. Finding it on the desk even, feels like the beginning of a piece Burns has written.

Of the four sections, ‘planchettes’ and ‘apparently’ were my favourites. Within ‘planchettes’ the poems feel like attacks, each word is spat sharp, Burns demonstrates her understanding of language with such ferocity (and velocity) that I felt myself reaching for the dictionary at every turn. On the other hand was, ‘apparently’ which lead readers into a maze of prose discussing allusions and ideas that barely feel real. It was here that I found my favourite poems, ‘prop’ (21-22) and ‘purchase’ (23-24) that follow one another and explore the edges of actions and dreams.

“you stand at the edge of the dream. Close enough to touch the table but you don’t. there is both an intimacy and a remoteness about its presence. You are aware that it is a new table. A gift perhaps. Or a clever purchase’ (23).

Beyond these two sections you are also met with ‘dial’ and ‘the random couch’ which offer their own insights into finance and freedom as speakers and readers alike step through crunching leaves towards their dreams.

Even flipping through the collection days later. I feel a sense of strangeness, like I haven’t uncovered all the paths into Burns’ mind. This is a powerful strength of hers, you will not look at the same sentence the same way twice.

There were definitely moments within reading this collection that I had to acknowledge that not all of these poems were for me, and some were above my comprehension without in depth study – however that is the art of poetry I believe, the ability to make something that will stand out to at least one person. Burns in her latest publication has provided a unique and biting collection of poetry that juggles words like I imagine a knife juggler would, you’re on the edge of your seat, unsure what you will encounter next. I hope for the chance to read more Burns poetry in the future and congratulate her on her most recent publication.

apparently is in bookstores now.


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