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Tais Rose Wae, Riverbed Sky Songs




'With its beautiful pacing and intimate lyrical voice, Tais Rose Wae’s Riverbed Sky Songs draws us into its world of making and remaking, its sensuously crafted lines and graceful cadences braiding thought, emotion and image into poems that radiate wonder and beauty. Reading these poems, it feels like we are participating in their unfolding, in physical acts of weaving and shaping ideas and feelings into something real, something ‘to be held / with care, with custodianship’. It is a truly marvellous first book, its freshness of voice and vision promising restoration and renewal in its enchanting music and quiet, pristine beauty.

Riverbed Sky Songs opens with ‘Epilogue to Ceremony’, its first lines ‘We found an early dream of you / in the rockpool fringed with grass’ discovering a space for an exquisite conversation between unborn child and mother. From here a journey expands with the arrival of the child through vision to womb to encompass a poetic encounter with place and self over the first seasons of the child’s life. This intimate, delicate tracery of water and land, self, connection and solitude invites the reader to witness the intricate networks it maps. This is an intuitive, meticulously braided and integrated work of quiet, dauntless power, shaped by a quality of reverent attentiveness ...

This is a work about disconnection and loss resulting from displacement. Its formal porousness suggests the silences and losses the poet navigates, while seeking repair for the sake of the next generation, beginning with her son. It is an extraordinary book that unfolds for the reader as an immersive journey and generous vision. Moving through many forms, these are poems of unabashed grace and openness, reckoning, wisdom, and resilience.'

Winner of the 2024 NSW Premier's Literary Awards
Kenneth Slessor Award for Poetry Judges' comments

Riverbed Sky Songs is an admiration and imagining of the inherent links between ecosystems and the human experience. The poetry collection challenges colonial form and storytelling and is tenderly woven across the page to mirror Wae’s connection to Country; found in moments of enamour amidst soft pockets of moss at the edge of a riverbed, in the reminder of strength and of spirit as reflected in the surface of a pearl, to the ancestral songs and knowing that are passed on through blood. It is an ode to the legacy of labour, power, courage and love of writers before us, and an offering of an ember to our children who will keep the fires of care and culture burning. Riverbed Sky Songs is a transformative process of discovery that enacts as a reminder to return, to walk gently, and to listen with as great a depth as the seabed alongside which many of these poems were remembered and recalled.

Tais Rose Wae is an artist and poet whose work explores the interconnection and imprint of maps of lineage, motherhood, and her Aboriginal ancestry. Her poetry is strongly imbued with a curiosity for and connection to the natural world. It has most recently been reimagined at the Biennale of Sydney and recognised amongst the Oodgeroo Noonuccal Indigenous Poetry Prize and Judith Wright Poetry Prize shortlists and the Peter Porter longlist, as well as being selected as runner-up for the Nakata Brophy Prize for Young Indigenous Writers. Wae's work can be found in publications including the Australian Poetry Anthology, Best of Australian Poetry, Cordite, Overland Literary Journal, Running Dog, West Space Offsite, and Westerly.

Tais Rose Wae, Riverbed Sky Songs
August 2023. 148mm x 210mm. 112pp.
ISBN 978-1-925735-58-1
Forthcoming 2023


This project is supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW.

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