shaping the fractured self

Yesterday it was my great honour to be a part of the launch of this ground-breaking anthology. As Peter Goldsworthy says in the Foreword – and reiterated last night – “Of course not all great art has its genesis in pain, and not all pain – not even a fraction – leads to the partial consolations of art. But if lancing an abscess is the surest way to healing, can poetry offer that same cleansing of emotional wounds?”


.     Peter Goldsworthy.                                               Heather Taylor Johnson

The blurb summarises the collection:

Shaping the Fractured Self showcases twenty-eight of Australia’s finest poets who happen to live with chronic illness and pain. The autobiographical short essays, in conjunction with the three poems from each of the poets, capture the body in trauma in its many and varied moods. Because those who live with chronic illness and pain experience shifts in their relationship to it on a yearly, monthly or daily basis, so do the words they use to describe it.”


This was the Adelaide launch introduced by editor Heather Taylor Johnson and Peter Goldsworthy – both great poets and story-tellers in my humble opinion. Peter is also a medical doctor so his imprimatur is two-fold. This was followed by readings from gareth roi jones, Ian Gibbins, Rachael Mead, me and Steve Evans. Among the audience were contributor Gretta Jade Mitchell, poet and GP Stan Sim and Alison Flett and J V Birch.


gareth roi jones,                   Ian Gibbins.                       Rachael Mead.

The generous 227 page collection also includes work by Rachel Robertson, Anne M Carson, Peter Boyle, Andy Jackson, Jessica Cohen, Sophie Finlay, Susan Hawthorne, Stuart Barnes, Meg Dunley, Heather Taylor Johnson, Fiona Wright, Ian C Smith, Beth Spencer, Margaret Owen Ruckert, Quinn Eades, Kristen Lang, David Brooks, Sid Larwill, Kevin Gillam, Rachael Guy, Grant Cochrane, India Breen and Dr Leah Kaminsky.


As well giving some unique insight into why and how many of these poets write the way they do, I believe this collection deals with deeper philosophical questions such as What is illness? How does illness, pain or disability shape our personality and creativity? I think this anthology will be useful for the general reader as well as health professionals wanting to explore the nexus between chronic conditions, self-expression and healing.


Thanks Heather for having the inspiration, vision and perseverance to see this project through to its fine conclusion!



Please read what JULIE BIRCH had to say about the evening and the collection as well.


Rob Walker.                         Steve Evans.                        Thanks SA poets!

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