Two reviews published in Mascara Literary Review

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I recently had the pleasure of reviewing two new Australian poetry collections: Distance, by Nathanael O’Reilly, and Fixing the Broken Nightingale by Richard James Allen. Here’s a little taste of each review; please follow the link to read the full versions at the wonderful Mascara Literary Review. (And a big thanks to managing editor Michelle Cahill.)


, Nathanael O’Reilly’s first full-length poetry collection, is separated into three sections – ‘Australia’, ‘Europe’ and ‘America’ – the first and most substantial section (which deals with the experience of growing up in Australia) functioning as the emotional cornerstone of the collection. The title and section headings immediately alert us to the major themes of the book – distance, separation, identity, expatriation, connection and disconnection – but the distances and proximities explored here are not simply geographical or physical; they are also temporal, cultural and emotional. (Link to the rest of the review here.)


Fixing the Broken Nightingale
, Richard James Allen’s tenth poetry collection, is a small treasure of a book – one you might pop into your bag and dip into at idle moments for bursts of inspiration, contemplation or solace. Indeed, the physical design of the book (it’s part of Flying Island’s petite Australian Pocket Poets Series) recalls a more romantic time when poetry was indeed carried and savoured in this way; while the title – evoking Keats’s ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ – suggests that similar themes of mortality, bliss, suffering and the power of words to save us will be explored. (Link to the rest of the review here.)






4 thoughts on “Two reviews published in Mascara Literary Review

  1. Thanks, Penelope, I love the photo too — she’s flinging those papers with abandon, isnt she? Yes, I think reviewing will make a big difference to my own writing. I start thinking I have absolutely nothing to say, rue the day I agreed to do the review, and have a small panic attack. Then I sit down and have a good hard read of the book, and things start to jump out at me… It’s always surprising how much depth there is in a good poetry collection, and how much you woud have skimmed over if you hadn’t been forced to read more closely. And since reading poetry is (in my opinion) the best way to learn how to write it, I’m hoping that all that intensive reading will pay off!

  2. Wow, congratulations and brava, Michele! Hadn’t been familiar with Richard James Allen’s work, but found the quoted passages so wise and stunning, and appreciate your insightful discussion, including of the power of presentation. Especially resonant, the lines from “The Neverness of Speech.” Thank you for your craft, and for the inspiration. Xo

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