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Caroline Williamson, Time Machines

Highly Commended in the 2023 5Islands Poetry Prize for a First Book of Poetry

Time Machines is the debut collection of poetry from Australian poet Caroline Williamson. At once acerbic and generously hearted, Williamson's poems carefully shape and form the everyday and personal into a meditation on the economic and political systems and the personalities that govern us. Through finely wrought narrative poems, Williamson vividly renders contemporary Melbourne in all its life as these same systems buckle and strain under the pandemic, the evolving climate catastrophe, and the hubris and incompetence of our political leaders. Williamson's poetry deftly and unapologetically, with insight and heart, explores while the personal is political, the political is also personal, holding the forces and individuals that govern us to account. This long-awaited debut collection brings a vital new voice to contemporary Australian poetry.

'From long memory and forensic daily observation Caroline Williamson makes new poetry of the long poem – with intelligence and impressive fluency she forms marvellous contrapuntal narratives. Whether she is recalling her coal-mining grandfather, or deriding our politicians for incompetence (or worse), even when struggling with economic theory (like most of us) the personal and the political are freed from the cliches of poetry and strike instead with a bracing immediacy. She is a natural ironist. Her writing is elegant but understated, deeply felt but utterly devoid of melodrama even when she is worrying away at climate change and Covid and the everyday contingencies of contemporary life beyond the headlines. She is determined to see things clearly, and she does.' Philip Salom

Caroline Williamson is a poet and editor. She was born in London, and worked there and in Beijing as a teacher, before turning her hand to editing: academic books, museum publications, and a campaigning anti-nuclear magazine. She moved to Melbourne with her Australian partner, where she has worked at Lonely Planet, Museum Victoria and Melbourne University Publishing. Her poems have been published in journals including OverlandMeanjinHeatRabbit and Cordite, in a number of Newcastle Prize anthologies, and in Contemporary Australian Feminist Poetry (ed. Bonnie Cassidy and Jessica Wilkinson). Her essay  'Working Methods: Painting, Poetry and the difficulty of Barbara Guest', based on her masters minor thesis, was published in Jacket magazine #36. Her PhD in creative writing (Monash 2016) examined some of the ways that poets have attempted to deal with climate change in their work, and included a verse narrative dealing with the lives of her coal-mining ancestors in Wales, in the context of what we now know about the damage done by burning fossil fuels. She won the 2014 A.D. Hope prize for the best postgraduate essay presented at the conference of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature, for 'Beyond Generation Green: Jill Jones and the Ecopoetic Process'.

Caroline Williamson, Time Machines
2023. 148mm x 210mm. 112pp.
ISBN 978-1-925735-50-5
Release: February 2023

Author photo © Di Cousens

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