Poetry Michelle Cahill The Accidental Cage

ISBN 13: 9781876819392

The Accidental Cage

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9781876819392: The Accidental Cage

Winner, Best First Book, IP Picks 2006. The Accidental Cage explores the perceptual and emotional experience of entrapment in its many forms. Exile, asylum, desire, love and motherhood all enter the speaker s imagination, often transformed by the force of resistance. The poems are nuanced, balancing a dramatic tension between the beauty of the metaphor and the impact of the meaning. The collection compiles longer meditations with shorter lyrical and imagistic poetry. This is an absorbing collection that weds classical metaphor and lyricism with contemporary voices and themes, while exploring a range of form. Essential for libraries and schools to widen their poetry collections.

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About the Author:

Michelle Cahill s poems and reviews have appeared in journals such as Callaloo, Going Down Swinging, Journal of Australian Studies, Cordite, Urthona (UK), Blue Dog, Verandah, Ulitarra, Imago, 4W, Poetrix, Vernacular, and Meusepress. With a Creative Writing Arts Major from Macquarie University (1999), Michelle attended the Bread Loaf Writers Conference in Vermont and the Catskill Poetry Conference in New York in 2004. One of three poets selected to tour southern NSW for the 2005 Poets On Wheels, she also received a scholarship from the Poetry Australia Foundation for its 2006 Poetry Workshop. She works as a part-time general practitioner in Sydney where she lives with her husband, David, and daughter, Tegan.

Review:

These are very mature and well-realised poems for a first book; on first reading some of them seemed to me almost too subtle, too imagistic, losing their punch along the way. But, like a lot of good poetry, on subsequent readings many of them seemed to unfold, revealing depths and meanings that at first were not readily apparent. Cahill has a sure voice when evoking nature, but the nature poems almost always contain a further layer in which the described comes to represent not just itself but also the describer (the poet). This quality is particularly evident in 'Liberty at Box Head' (p.4): the poet observes the sea and its creatures - swallows, finches, banksias, and seagulls, all described with enough colour and detail to transport the reader to the shore. But the final lines reveal that this is more than a mere nature poem. These lines: '... I think of those seagulls / in salmon rich waters. One may lose a leg / through sheer play - the price of liberty' imply that those of the human species who seek freedom also run the risk of injury, changing a descriptive piece about nature to a rumination on the nature of being human. This is a deft and subtle display of craft, making larger themes and issues emerge from the small and particular. --Liz Hall-Downs, Thylazine

It is a cliché to call this a book of migrant experience : as if ethno poets were invented to serve this ready made subject. For Cahill s book goes beyond the limits of a genre of migrant confession or biography. It does not attempt to give us the fact of Michelle s life or how she ended up in Australia, but it gives us the feelings of a more universal subject who is possibly at home anywhere, or no-where. The book is rich in rhizomic beings, invoking hybridity, as the poem about bamboo illustrates parts of ourselves shoot up everywhere. There are other voices, also, that Cahill speaks through: the oracle of the moon, the lesbian lover, Hindu and Buddhist avatars of the supernatural, hybrid forms of the half-reptilian, half-bird, and other cross-species types. In one poem she compares her unborn daughter to a snake. This is a dystopic collection, elegiac and valedictory in tone. --Adam Aitken, Jacket number 33 : July 2007

The Accidental Cage is yet another of what seems, by now, a long string of remarkably strong first books by Australian women poets in the past five years or so. Clive James, claimed a year or two ago from the safety of London, that we are now living in a "golden age" of Australian poetry. If so, it looks as if, from the evidence of books like The Accidental Cage, that it has quite a few years to run yet. --Geoff Page, ABC bookshow

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