in seattle in april -

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If this sounds a bit 'blurby' it's because I wrote it as a possible back cover encomium for Melbourne poet, critic and academic, Ann Vickery's wonderful new book of poems Devious Intimacy -
In Ann Vickery's sophisticated collection of poems you can certainly "appreciate the tenor of a carefully played code" as she applies her natural critical ability with caustic lucidity. These poems cut right through cultural habit and cant and put paid to any "theoried regrets". Beneath what is said here lie enigmatic layers of what is unsaid. In these poetry games Purgatory is "full of hoons", ecopoetry offers "Terroir on tap", "higher purpose" is possibly "hire purchase", and poets can be "word-burgled". The exhilarated scepticism of Ann Vickery's cogent language is lightly modulated by occasional ironic Edwardian phrasing and formality in mementos for friends and eulogies to favourite women writers and artists. This is arrestingly incarnated poetry diffused with female luminosity.

I did 'hear' a kind of Edwardian tone in some of the poems. I suppose the distinction or binary between Edwardian and Modernist writing is entrenched but I don't think that transition was a simple one. Edwardian women did grapple with women's suffrage, class, divorce laws and so on and I think Ann's poems do that too. I don't think the traces of 'formality' she uses seem 'Victorian'. But, reluctantly, I ended up adding that hackneyed word "ironic" to conciliate my response.

Here are two poems from Devious Intimacy :

An Eye for an Eye 
             after Simone de Beauvoir

Freedom belies reciprocity. This, lovers know.
Some say her head was shaved to stave off murder,
		a kindness of sorts.  
Vengeance calls for the collaborator
to experience her own ambiguity
decamped as subject		visibly wracked or unwomaned.
Oholah, too, was once caressed by foreign hands.
Paris lays bare the ancient crime of being-in-common.
	Seduced by aesthetics  	   the punished example
After paradox there is only theory, to fail at splitting hairs.

Ecopoetic Ecumenical

Purgatory is by nature hot and full of hoons.
Temperature, not temperament, a nice set of wheels.
It’s generally the assholes that get all the love poems.
Once in the greenhouse, you sat
contemplating the properties of peat, an idea of warmth 
through being trapped. A poem is a miracle of distillation
strophing mood like water from plastic, 
the fuelling station’s quick fix for the final leg.  
When it comes to a bucket list of romance, or seasonal variation,
try razing the grapes, particularly those handpicked and curlicued.  
Cling to a hundred little homilies. Leave others to their heirloom pursuits: 
love’s climate countdown is inordinately inevitable. Terroir on tap.
For more information about Ann Vickery, the book, and to order a copy visit Hunter Publishers here.
Devious Intimacy is Ann's second collection after the booklet The Complete Pocketbook of Swoon, one of the ten deciBels series published by Vagabond Press in December 2014. That book has been well-received. Some of its poems are included in Devious Intimacy.

Dan Disney reviewed The Complete Pocketbook of Swoon in 'Cordite Poetry Review' -

Ann Vickery’s The Complete Pocketbook of Swoon hits an entirely different timbre, the poet taking up a cerebral stance in poems ticking like bombs. The title surely doffs toward Bernstein’s ‘The Klupzy Girl’, in which:
    Poetry is like a swoon, but with this difference: it brings you to your senses

Instead of bombs, then, these texts are perhaps a kind of Triage. Vickery tells us in the first three lines of the book how:
    This is just fun-size confectionary,
     pet-name or a pose generator, to palliate
     the impracticalities of play

Yet these texts are neither minor nor mere confections; in the first, ‘Swoon in Miniature; or, The Youth’s Pleasing Instructor’, Vickery’s encompassing gaze lights upon the spectres of Heidegger, Shakespeare, Bowie and a host of others; in this poem-as-Wunderkammer, the critique seems anti-yob and voicing revolt, an enduring shriek of concern for what we may have become: psychically anorexic but feasting nonetheless on ‘Digestible elements of a dickybird world’. Vickery’s fractious, rebarbative style is always a sharp read:

    Wind-up lips at the fountain of youth,
    standing pixelated in the Radiant Light
    spray. I claim my five minutes
    of hegemony, you slightly more.
    Tear-streaked, we wander through
    Ovid, deep culture on your shoulder.
    Art’s shade to cast one more version.
    To build from hazelnuts a small estate,
    A measure lined with elaboration

The Complete Pocketbook of Swoon is an intertextual mosaic of glinting remnants from across canons; Vickery has sampled and remixed from tropes, dictions, genres, to create a Steinian (‘a mirror is a mirror is’) or perhaps Frankensteinian suite of texts in which affect, or vignettes thereof, seems largely abandoned in favour of traced contours of an ‘endless short circuited ghosting’ of spectacles. What seems clearest is that Vickery is not interested in taking readers prisoner with totalised accounts of individual experience; just as ‘Affection never did find a home where it wanted to stay’, these non-lyrical texts flare up as if ‘goosebumps on the earth’s curved hide’. Vickery weirdly hits all the high-notes of abjection; this poet-as-reader or reader-as-poet seems to scorn lyric traditions (truth, beauty, etc) as clich├ęs, as nothing less than master narratives promulgated by regimes. Instead, this is a book floodlit with zeitgeistful attenuations of a changing world; its style both tracks and promotes the shift.

You can find The Complete Pocketbook of Swoon here.