2012& Other Poems by Amanda Anastasi (review)


2012 and other poems.

Amanda Anastasi’s first collection of poems.

James WF Roberts

What Melbourne writers are saying about Amanda Anastasi’s first collection:
2012 and other poems is a richly contemporaneous. Amanda Anastasi takes on various occasions as various as saving a great tree, Fukushima and the tragic shipwreck at Christmas Island. But the key to the book is the poet in person, a skilled wordsmith exploring, with candour and some irony, herself and the subtle extended life of her experience”
Judith Rodriguez

Amanda Anastasi is passionately committed to the emergence of the individual and directs a sharp philosophical critique towards anything which blocks this emergence, whether insitutions in society, consumer culture or sheep mentality. This philosophy is delivered in rich language which is nonetheless plain-speaking and avoids saccharine expression. These meditations on what it means to be an individual have their greatest impact precisely on the individual who thise collection privately and reflectively, perhaps in a bath of still, warm water”.
Santo Cazzati, 3CR Spoken Word.

In 2012, Anastasi invites you to question the social and political constructs we take for granted in our day to day lives and over generations. Don’t turn a blind eye to this impressive collection. Amanda Anastasi is an emerging poet to watch”. Tiggy Johnson, Editor Page Seventeen Magazine

At this point, I have let slip
The parameters of the acceptable” Amanda Anastasi, 2012 and other poems.

It still amazes me that whenever you walk in, well I walk into some of the big chain bookstores in the CBD of Melbourne or Bendigo etc, and you ask to see the Australian poetry section often it feels like the Girl behind counter thinks you have asked for a large brown paperbag full of the weirdest and most perverted porn you can legally get. I guess the fact I wear a big black coat, a black trilby hat and sometimes black sunglasses doesn’t help my cause much. But, what is wrong with Australians when it comes to poetry?

In America and in European Countries, from what I can gather they value and honour their poets, Walt Whitman, Keruoac, Ginsberg, Nathianel Hawthorne etc…are still recited and taught at schools, and let’s not forget Edgar Allen Poe, is still pretty much one of the best, if not the best current selling (and sales in his lifetime) Poet of all time. I find Poetry exciting. I know people will find that a very strange pyschological and emotional problem and should be treated right away. I often like to say to people, I am not a poet or a writer, I am a poetry addict—I just can’t get enough of it.

Nothing excites the blood, in my opinion more than seeing inside another person’s mind, going to the weird, wild, wonderful and sometimes downright whacky imagination of another creative spirit. This is real excitement, not the cheap thrills of a roller-coast or a ghost train at Luna Park, but real danger. The danger of allowing yourself to feel as another person feels, to love, to hate and to think the same way as that person. It is intimate, passionate, distant and ravishing. And this is how you will feel when you read this fantastic premeire collection by one of Melbourne’s finest Spoken Word Performers, Amanda Anastasi, 2012 and other poems, published by Lulu, 2012.

A lot of people, especially in Australia I think, are distrustful of poetry. I want to say that they don’t understand it, or they afraid of it, or they just don’t care. But that is too harsh and also quite elitist on my behalf. Deep down I think though, that people are distrustful of poetry because it is thought of as something far above everyone’s own daily struggle. That it is for people with University degrees, wear black turtle necks and drink Chardonnay, go antiquing in the Grampians or at Daylesford and enjoy the spectacle of mass sport as masturbation or a modern church, I think you get the point, ( a note to any of my friends who suddenly want to beat me up after reading that last line, if you recognise yourself like that—it’s time to change your clothes)

But, poetry in its individual and unique form is quite different than what most people are exposed to, say at school, or what they see on TV or movies about poets. Poetry is essentially the vehicle of direct language meeting direct emotional response. Beauty, truth kind of thing. The rythms, and structures, the cadence and form of good poetry are desgined for the reader, or the listener to build images up in their mind, without the audience knowing what tools, what road map the writer is using. This is very much the case with Amanda’s poem, Poets. [originally published in 2011, Short and Twisted, anthology, Celapene Press, then in 2012 Horizons anthology, Poetica Christi Press]

We run our fingers over the shell
of humanity, feeling for the pulse
of its mettle; the rhythms of its
prejudices, the beat of its concord;
drunk on the beautiful, redefining its
boundaries: its height, its breadth
and its colours, worshipping a
horizon’s sweep and the vein
of a leaf, the collected light
of a city and the glisten in
an eye; capturing a moment in the universe
and the universe in a moment.

I have heard a colleague and friend of mine, Michaeal Reynolds, that Amanda doesn’t nessecarily use words, it’s more that she honours them. And I agree with that idea. Read this poem aloud and you will feel that seduction take place.

Yet, there is irony in her words as well. Look where the word ‘boundaries’ appears, it is not on the regularly accepted position, or boundary at the end of the line. It is at the beginning of it, so maybe not so much a boundary rather a door, or portel, a journey towards a new realm of thought maybe?

Without spending too long on this poem, I can see many of the same ideas flowing through her pen, as one of the great English poets of all time, certainly in the top four of the Great Romantics, S.T. Coleridge. I think this poem, certainly falls within the same scope of ideas and utilizes the same seductive language that S.T. Coleridge uses in Kublai Khan. One of the arguments I have heard about that piece by Coleridge is that the Poet is wittnessing the sexual fury, the giant release of the creative spirit, as the Pleasure Dome rises from the tumult, ie: the Dome is actually the poem itself.

In literature today, there is pretty much no, real no-go areas for writers of any gender, orientation, age group or religious background to explore. I am in favour of this occurrence. The global world is shoved down our throats 24/7 and I know a lot of poets feel the same as I do, that we have a right, if not a responsibility to respond to this new over saturated world. And Amanda certainly does that, with quite expert hands. She takes on a trip of emotional expeniture. Ranging from the first contact between Europeans and Aboriginals, the wreckage of Fukishima and of Cyclone Yasi, to our own shopping centres and suburban gardens and to marvel at the ‘Saturn’s rings’ of a thousand-year-old tree. She shares with us her own wonderment of our capacity for seeing, remembering, grieving and joy. This is a collection of wide scope, a path with many turns which constantly asks the reader to go just a little further every time.

First Boats is a prime example of the way Amanda builds up images with a simple yet refined way we find ourselves longing for understanding and being filled with compassion and I think a lot of shame.

first boats
January 18, 1788

they sail across our waters
they sail across our ancestors
hair the hue of sand dunes,
skin white as a sea eagle’s belly

thin second skins sheathe
their arms, legs, torsos
the colours of billowing sea,
moon and dead eucalypt bark
sun-like rocks decorate their

chests in long vertical lines
shiny skins blackened, moulded
to shape their feet that now step

from bulky canoes; we wave spears
above our heads: warra warra wai
where are your message sticks
seeking invitation?

they look upon us as they look upon
the mangrove trees, without seeing

this rainbow serpent will form a
second world on our mountains,
our waterways and forests – full with
spirit – though they brand it as bare
they stride across our land
they stride across our souls.

This poem was Highly Commended in the 2011,Julie Lewis Biennial Literarary awards, presented at the Peter Cowan Writer’s Centre in Western Australia.The judging poet was Kevin Gillam and it was one of eleven poems shortlisted from the 212 entries. There are more poems I could discuss here but then if I did that I would be too tempted to post all of them, and you would have no real need to buy this lovely book and Amanda would be very cross with me.

What intrigues me the most with Amanda is her own sense of style in her verse. She uses concetre imagery, and allows that imagery to speak for itself, she doesn’t illustrate the point she is trying to make by hitting you over the head repeatidly with the metaphor until you are dull. She uses all of her stylistic and versification weapons, admirably and doesn’t seperate the reader from the unravelling mystery in our heads. We are with the writer, the entire length of every poem, this is more like a greatest hits album from a singer than a debut album, almost every poem is a gold record that is critically acclaimed. There is an upsurge in the Melbourne Spoken Word scene and indeed in most Poetry Scenes, I think of trying to make poetry more mainstream, more sales, from a desperate readership looking for truth in an over saturated world. I think so many people are sick of reality TV shows, mindless panel discussion shows and pointless politicians, if Poetry in Australia is to move into the mainstream of Art and Entertainment where it belongs, it will be the poetry of Amanda Anastasi, I think that will be the first beginings of said movement.

Amanda’s poetry also works if you are new to poetry, or you want to give someone not very familiar with poetry, or with Australia as it is today, their very first book of contemporary Australian verse. This is a direct writer-reader response experience on the page, it will leave you wandering and thinking for hours after you have one piece, or two or three lines, but that is the beauty of good art, once it leaves the hands of it’s creator it constructs its own world and views, images, emotional complexity around whoever is willing to take the first steps of the journey. After all, beauty and poetry—beautiful, instense poetry is not just in the eye of the beholder, it’s also reponses to the beholder’s heart.

I have met Amanda several times face to face, and corresponded with her many times on social networks o nthe internet. She is the one who re-introduced me to the Performance Poetry scene in Melbourne, at Passionate Tongues, at the Brunswick Hotel. So we are friends and colleagues, but my opinions of her work are not reflected or maintained by my friendship with her. I would hold these views regardless if we were friends of not.

For more information on how to purchase a copy of this tantalizing collection please visit: http://poetryamanda.blogspot.com.au/

Amanda Anastasi’s Biographay:

After completing her arts degree at Deakin University, Amanda shed her former conservative self to embrace independent thought. She started a piano tuition business, Virtuoso Music, through which she teaches up to sixty students a week, runs recitals and performs at the occasional function. Although she had majored in writing at uni, it wasn’t until 2009/10 that Amanda threw herself into the wonderful world of words. In 2009 she was surprised to find herself shortlisted in the Page Seventeen Poetry Competition. This gave birth to an insatiable poetry monster, and Amanda subsequently had poems published in many Australian and international anthologies and magazines. She was even more astonished to find herself the winner of the 2010 Seagull Poetry Prize at the Williamstown Literary Festival, with a poem concerned with asylum seeker issues. Amanda often drops in at Passionate Tongues or The Dan O’Connell readings to perform her work. To contact email: aanastasi78@dodo.com.au





About jameswfrobertsdapoet

Emerging Poet and Writer. From Bendigo, Victoria, Australia. I present a show called Crazy Talk/Word Berserk, on www.phoenixfm.org.because I believe in what Phoenix has to offer. No where else will you get the diversity of Gospel, Country music shows, Koori themed shows and Poetry and Experimental music? My father, Bryan did a show on 3CCC in the 1980’s called the Keyboard Hour for a bout 8 years, until he died. That is partly why I joined Phoenix but mainly it’s because of the diversity we offer people and also I really do feel that we are an important vehicle, an important voice for the Community at Large. My interests are Poetry, Literature, Music, Movies, Cultural Awareness and Philosophical pursuits. My show is basically a Late Night Radio Show for Artists, Poets, Musicians and Creative Thinkers of all types to come and inform, enjoy, entertain and inspire each other. So join me and my guests from the local Artistic Community to be inspired, to be entertained and informed
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8 Responses to 2012& Other Poems by Amanda Anastasi (review)

  1. I wish i knew what the font changed on this bloody thing. But i hope Amanda likes it all the same.

  2. Em says:

    Well said! “…beautiful, instense poetry is not just in the eye of the beholder, it’s also reponses to the beholder’s heart.” A marvellous review written from a perspective that regards both the reader as an individual, and the entity of poetry in the modern world. I can’t afford to buy books at the moment, but I have heard a lot of Amanda’s poems, and they are indeed both deep and accessible. The excerpts you have chosen reflect this, and I agree – the mainstream is intellectually undernourished; crying out for something substantial that speaks to the mind and the heart.

  3. It is wonderful to receive this kind of well thought out, insightful and appreciative response to my work, James. Thank you for this! Em, even if you can’t afford to buy the book do come along to one of my gigs in the future! Find me on Facebook and I will be sure to invite you 🙂

  4. Oh, Emily! Well, the comment means all the more to me now as Emily Manger is a fine poet 🙂

    • Em says:

      Cheers, Amanda – indeed, I hope to see many more of your gigs. The book launch was professional quality; excellent material, well performed and organised. When I left, it was as if my shoulder-angel was full of admiration and my shoulder-devil was full of envy.

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