A Gamble for my Daughter takes its title from the final poem in Luke Fischer’s third full-length collection, which addresses the dilemmas of raising a child in a world fraught with political unrest and environmental catastrophe. This contemporary situation is historically contextualised by other poems in the collection, including the five-part sequence ‘Orphic Elegy’ that opens the first section of the book. In its retelling and revision of myths about Orpheus, this poem sheds a unique light on the historical breakdown of a holistic vision of the universe in modernity and the resulting alienation of humanity from nature and the divine. Parts I and II reimagine ancient Orphism. Part III focuses on the integration of art and science in the Renaissance. Part IV centres on the twentieth century and addresses the question famously formulated by the philosopher Theodor Adorno about whether it is possible to write poetry after Auschwitz. Part V revises myths about Orpheus’s magical ability to charm animals (and his relationship to the dead), in connection with the mass extinction of animals that is currently taking place. The poems in the book’s second section speculate in a mythopoetic and embodied way on the possibilities of establishing new forms of interconnection between art and the environment, mind and nature. The third section addresses the human relationship to animals, the ecological crisis, and the violence of colonisation, and wrestles with questions about how to bring up a child in the face of the challenging future that she will inherit. This collection takes the synthesis of poetry and philosophy to a new level of sophistication, insight and empathy previously unseen in Australian poetry.
‘“Why could your music / not turn the Maenads’ hearts?” Luke Fischer asks in an opening sequence which propels the Orpheus myth in fresh and newly-relevant directions. It’s a question which reverberates subtly beneath the remainder of the book: a second section in which abstract meditations acquire blood and bone; a third section in which poems of open-hearted love search for ways to maintain a child’s innocence and wonder. The Irish poet Eavan Boland came to regard poetry as “a forceful engagement between a life and language.” Luke Fischer’s A Gamble for my Daughter is just such an engagement. It is intellectually exciting, emotionally affecting, dense, yet simultaneously lucid and welcoming. It is naked, vulnerable poetry which seeks the timeless and urgent.’ Brook Emery
‘Very few poets in Australia possess such a width of erudition or so deep an engagement with a tradition of philosophical poetry reaching back through Rilke and Hölderlin to the Renaissance and the Pre-Socratics. And yet these are very human poems filled with the experiences of parenthood and holding closely to present experience, here in the time of climate crisis and ongoing ecological collapse.’ Peter Boyle
‘If there is a word that could encapsulate Luke Fischer’s poetic dwelling it is transparency. From his first collection Luke Fischer’s verses are prismatic eyes that see through the visible and the tangible establishing correspondences of symbolic equivalence the likes of which we see only in Paul Valery, Osip Mandelstam and Rainer Maria Rilke. The pure lyricism of his language liberates the aesthetic potential of his vision from the shackles of cliché and trivialities. The poet revives the visible reality into the pristine hierophany of its originary source: the radical and fragile imaginary of mortality.’ Professor Vrasidas Karalis
Luke Fischer is a prize-winning poet and philosopher. He has authored and co-edited seven books, including two poetry collections A Personal History of Vision (UWAP, 2017) and Paths of Flight (Black Pepper, 2013). Judith Beveridge speaks of his ‘seemingly effortless ability to blend visual detail and imaginative vision’ and Robert Gray considers him ‘outstanding among a new generation of Australian poets.’ His honours include the Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize (winner), the Anne Elder Award (commended), Newcastle Poetry Prize (shortlisted several times), Red Room Poetry Fellowship (shortlisted), anthologised poems in The Best Australian Poems (several times), Award-Winning Australian Writing, and Contemporary Australian Poetry, and an international writers’ residency at the Château de Lavigny, Switzerland. Fischer is a leading scholar of Rilke’s poetry and author of The Poet as Phenomenologist: Rilke and the New Poems (Bloomsbury, 2015). He frequently collaborates with artists and musicians and has been an invited speaker at conferences and events at the International Literature Festival Berlin, Oxford University, Sydney Writers’ Festival, Johns Hopkins University (USA), Tübingen University (Germany), the MCA (Sydney), Poetry on the Move, and the Goethe-Institut. Fischer holds a PhD in philosophy and is an honorary associate of the University of Sydney.
2022. 148mm x 210mm. 112pp.
Release date: May 2022
Cover image by Clara Fischer (aged two, 2019).