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BEST OF books
LIVING WITH DOWN
SYNDROME IN THE 21ST
By Jan Gothard (Fremantle Press, $26.95)
This moving book, including 60 personal interviews,
shows varied approaches to living with Down
syndrome, the most common cause of intellectual
disability in Australia. Renowned child health expert
Professor Fiona Stanley calls this book the one to
read if you have a child with Down syndrome or work
in a professional capacity related to it.
BOAT PEOPLE: PERSONAL
STORIES FROM THE
Edited by Carina Hoang (Fremantle Press, $45)
A beautifully presented book of interviews with
Vietnamese boat people, officials, photographers
and journalists. WA -based Carina Hoang left
Vietnam at 16 with two younger siblings and
hundreds of strangers in a frail wooden boat,
and set off across the South China Sea.
THE END OF LONGING
By Ian Reid (UWA Publishing, $32.95)
A lyrical, pacy, bitter-beautiful novel about a
confidence trickster, a restless woman, and their
travels. When New Zealander Frances is laid to
rest in an unmarked grave in Jamaica in 1894, her
enigmatic husband, the Rev. William Hammond,
can’t be found. Reports are sent to her brothers
with allegations of fraud and, perhaps, murder.
Perth-raised poet Claire Potter is lighting up the
literary scene. Awarded an Australian Young
Poet Fellowship in 2006, she’s now released her
first full-length poetry collection, Swallow.
You grew up in Perth, studied in Paris
and are now based in London. How does
a sense of place impact on your writing?
It thrives on travel and living in different places.
Writing, like memory, can be a commemorative
way of returning to places and people.
Nature is a central theme in your work. Why?
Often the natural or the physical world is pitted
against the metaphysical world as though the
two were incompatible. Ralph Waldo Emerson
talks about writing to an ‘unknown friend’ and
for me the unknown friend is the natural world
and its inhabitants... The hand-drawn bees my
friend Lucas Ihlein made for the cover of Swallow
cor respond to the ‘state of mind’ inside the book.
What inspired Swallow?
A lot of things, but James Joyce’s A Portrait
of the Artist as a Young Man provoked thought,
particularly when Stephen sees, in the flight of
swallows, something prophetic. The association
of poetry with birds g oes without saying, but I’d
also read Aristotle’s belief that swallows were not
migratory, but burrowed underground in winter,
and I liked the poetic errancy of this idea.
You’ ve said that poetry “expresses the
essence of what remains to be said”.
How does this translate in your work?
Judith Wright puts it well: ‘When all the living’s
done/it’s poems that remain.’ The hardest tasks of
writing – removing a word, for example – often
make a poem what it is. Paul Celan talks about his
poems being messages in a bottle – which to me
means that great poems must have something of
the essential about them such that they vibrate
both on their own and in ways beyond themselves.
Swallow by Clair e Potter, Five Islands Pr ess, $21.95 .
By Gail Jones (Random House, $29.95)
A finely wrought novel about time, art and loss set
in Sydney’s Circular Quay. It takes place over the
course of a single Saturday, and revolves around
four adult lives that share mysterious patterns. The
presence of a fifth person, a child, comes to haunt
all that unfolds in this beautiful meditation on
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