Glass Flowers
Diane Fahey

Paperback | Oct 2021 | Puncher and Wattmann | 9781922571137 | 140pp | 210x148mm | GEN | AUD$25.00, NZD$29.99

In Glass Flowers, Diane Fahey explores many kinds of space — the enclosed spaces of rooms, art galleries, hospital wards, prehistoric caves, the airy, flowing spaces of gardens, and the sky's infinite life. Her intense engagement with the natural world moves in new directions, 'as we approach the summer years'. While some poems convey the freedom of the present moment — imaged by the long glide of a kelp gull, 'a yielding, shaping gesture' — others invoke the uncanny, as in 'Unearthly' where clouds at sunset, photographed from a space station, send out into space thousand-mile shadows / cutting through that cold radiance, / probing the void. Fahey also directs her gaze at various kinds of creativity — in particular, paintings that explore the inner life of rooms, and self-portraits built from coils and surges of / colour incarnate. The title sequence, based on paintings inspired by the Glass Flowers exhibit at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, combines a far-reaching imaginative ambit with an accent of contemplative calm:

And the long stems
lit from within —

they too know the touch
of sky-shine, the quixotic
life of clouds.

Let’s call it
the provisional sublime.

Finally, A Death in Winter, a sequence on the life and death of Leo Semanpillai, a Tamil refugee to Australia, brings forward a tragic narrative of oppression endured to the furthest limit of courage and hope, one that is emblematic of our times.