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Fiona Hile, Subtraction

Winner of the 2017 Helen Anne Bell Poetry Award
Highly Commended in the Victorian Premier's Literary Awards (2019)


Taking its cues from Rimbaud’s call for the reinvention of love, Subtraction tours the hologrammatic labyrinths of the English language to ask again: What is love? And what does the other want? From the courtly inventions of the letters of Abelard and Heloise through the ‘mystical jaculations’ of thirteenth century saints, to the philosophy and science wars of the latter-day bugs, these poems set out from the immobilising imperatives of loving encounters to inscribe themselves in the archival becoming-truths of their own ceaseless wanderings. Gorging and resisting, feasting and refusing, Subtraction smorgasbords fusional, ablative and illusory accounts of love only to find that literature impedes romantic progress, imprisons hopes, and forestalls invention, so that ‘she who has come to us at last in its pages, loves us no better in real life’. In the process of doing this, it finds new ways of encountering its perilous selves, in the provision of curiously assembled tools with which to measure and to shape. 

'Subtraction is Hile's syntactical sublime in full lyric reboot, ecstatic as science fiction and alien as love.' - Astrid L'Orange

Fiona Hile’s first full-length collection, Novelties (Hunter 2013), was awarded the 2014 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry. In 2012, she won the Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize with “Bush Poem With Subtitles” and was awarded second place in the Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize for “The Owl of Lascaux”. Her second collection, Subtraction, was awarded the 2017 Helen Anne Bell Poetry Bequest for an unpublished manuscript.

The Helen Anne Bell Poetry Award, administered by the Department of English at the University of Sydney, is unique. It offers a generous prize of $5000 and publication with Vagabond Press for an unpublished full-length poetry manuscript by an Australian woman. This is the second time the prize has been awarded. Three distinguished Australian women poets, Pam Brown, Gig Ryan and Kate Lilley, selected the shortlist from an astonishingly rich and diverse field of 90 manuscripts.

Fiona Hile, Subtraction
2018. 148mm x 210mm. 70pp. 
ISBN 978-1-925735-02-4

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