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Bella Li, Lost Lake

Shortlisted for the Judith Wright Calanthe Award 2018

'Lost Lake is a lush hybrid of prose poetry, collage and photography, forming what is one of the most beautifully produced poetry titles of recent times. Expansive and imaginative, Li challenges the possibilities of the medium; Lost Lake is an adventure in form, where the book’s design is as poetic as the text it contains. A poetic travelogue of sorts, the book journeys constantly between the poetic and the visual in a narrative that takes on and repurposes the tropes of colonial exploration in order to tell a different, multi-valent story. There are funfairs, hothouses, and green houses. There are lost lakes. Li’s prose poems bely their slick forms; the voice is assured and sophisticated, even though many sentences are charged fragments from her source texts. Hovering underneath text and image alike is a devotion to what has been lost, to its recovery through expansion into the surreal. Positioned at the interstices of the subliminal and the known, the work reveals absences in time and space that soon we long to inhabit.' (From the QLD Prize judges' report)

Following on from the groundbreaking Argosy, Li's second collection Lost Lake ups the ante, taking the reader and literature alike into new reaches and realms of the imagination. Lost Lake, which exhibits Li’s distinctive use of text and image, consists of eight extended sequences of poetry, collage and photography, drawing on sources ranging from Dante’s Inferno and Steve Reich’s Different Trains, to Woman's Day magazines and the archives of artist and autodidact Joseph Cornell. Through the eight sequences of Lost Lake, geography and music, history and architecture, works of art and literature, encounter each other in striking and unexpected ways, generating new hybrid objects. Lost Lake disassembles boundaries and challenges expectations of what a work of literature can be—its alchemy blooms in the spaces between eras, genres and forms.

Bella Li is the author of Argosy (Vagabond Press, 2017), which won the Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Poetry and the Kenneth Slessor Prize, and was highly commended in the Anne Elder Award and commended in the Wesley Michel Wright Prize; Lost Lake (Vagabond Press, 2018), shortlisted for the Judith Wright Calanthe Award; and Theory of Colours (Vagabond Press, 2021), shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Prize and joint winner of the Australian Book Design Association award for Best Designed Independent Book. Her first work Maps, Cargo appeared as part of the Rare Object Series. Her poetry, artwork, short fiction, essays, and reviews, have been published widely, including in the Australian Book ReviewOverlandGoing Down SwingingPerilRabbitLiminalThe Kenyon Review, and the Archives of American Art Journal. Recent work can be found in Meanjin (Winter 2021), New Directions in Contemporary Australian Poetry (Palgrave, 2021), and Art Writing in Crisis (Sternberg, 2021). She holds a PhD from the University of Melbourne, and is the associate publisher at Cordite Books and the managing editor at Scribe Publications.

Bella Li, Lost Lake
RRP $35.00 
April 2018. 176pp. PB. 140mm x 210mm. 54 colour images.
ISBN 978-1-925735-18-5




This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

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