When Sara Moss speaks of the 'tough little
flowers' of "Daisy Chain" she might well be speaking of many of
the poems in this, her first collection. Apparently modest in thematic and
formal scope, their roots run deep, with a strength that comes from the
interaction of a direct eye, a lively mind and a responsive, often troubled,
heart. Though her vision is by no means uniformly sombre, being at times
distinctly feisty, Moss is most impressive when demonstrating her under-standing
of the ordinariness as well as the mystery of suffering, whether that suffering
comes in the form of 'Illness, grief at the specific loss of someone loved
("A Deep Fear of Trains", "Holding On"') or the vaguer
inti mat ions of those "Bad Days"' when we feel 'the rasp/ of
fate's whiskers'. She also understands, and writes cogently about, the violence
of private and public life, the anger that women direct at each other as
well as against men, and the difficulties of situating a self-conscious
self in relation both to other people and to historical events.
Her success in suggesting the mysteriousness of people, events and objects is largely due to her grasp of the fact that mystery is best conveyed not through asserting its existence but through its evocation in images which may be 'Teasing with a hint of profile' or precise as orange segments 'arranged/ like flower petals' on a white hospital plate. To be 'in the hold/of what is known' is a sanctuary for the distraught persona of "Through the Carriages, but it is also a major strength for the poet.
Yes, but there's often also a poignantly
lyrical quality as in the haunting lines of "Returning": `Gulls
cry in the morning/salt grazes my tongue/You never know/when you have everything/when
health courses/through blood and tissue/when you are one/with the lapping
tide.' Some of these poems may indeed recount hospitalisation and physical
incapacity but they never display the impotence of spirit and despair. While
Moss never understates the strength of the darkness, she asserts her identity,
her selfhood as woman, lover, feminist. There is an honesty and integrity
to all this, and an enduring courage.
John Knight, Social Alternatives
Phil Brown, Brisbane News
Helen Horton, Imago
Sara Moss was born in Somerset England in
1967 and emigrated to Queensland, Australia with her family when she was
twelve years old. Her early ambitions for a career in journalism reflected
an interest in writing but her desire for a wider education led her to Sydney
and a study of history and politics at Macquarie University.
Returning to Queensland in the early 1990s
she began writing poetry, combining the observation and humour of spoken
word based texts with the economy demanded in writing for the page. She
realises her poetic vision through voices echoing facets of the self and
Experiences of migration and isolation manifest in themes of loss, separation and returning. Her ability to dramatise these subjects in a disturbing world gives universal strength to her poetry.
IP is pleased to announce the publication of the first in its Emerging Authors' Series, Sara Moss A Deep Fear of Trains.
In this brash first collection, Sara Moss strips complacency away from the poetic experience. A provocative blend of the intensely personal and incisive documentary, A Deep Fear of Trains celebrates the bravery of sick children, while satirising the selfishness of the privileged.
These are works that reach out for contact in places where defeat is the norm, to find beating hearts in stale kingdoms. Her poetry questions whether salvation is possible but never denies the necessity of attaining it.