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James Stuart, Anonymous Folk Songs

Highly Commended in the Anne Elder Award 2014

Anonymous Folk Songs is James Stuart’s first full-length collection of poems. His other collection is Imitation Era (Rare Object Series, Vagabond Press, 2012). His previous work is largely intermedia. He was a 2008 Asialink Literature Resident in Chengdu, China, and works as a communications manager.

“The complex landscapes of today, urban and natural, become worldscapes and dreamscapes in James Stuart’s poems, traversed or experienced but never wholly commandeered by ‘the likes of you & me’. Joy, hope and even tranquillity are edged with apprehensions of destruction and change. In the rich noticing and gorgeous pleasures of these poems, and their tensile, analytical structures, there is always form and void. Layered places, moods and the mesh of thought and feeling are expressed with the uneasy eloquence of this assured poetic talent.” Nicholas Jose

"The poems in Anonymous Folk Songs were composed over more than a decade. As a debut collection it is assured, intelligent, often very funny, and rewards close reading. There is much to appreciate here: different notes will of course be sounded to different ears in the process of reading; and each reading, too, produces its own metamorphoses of meaning." Bella Li in Cordite Poetry Review

"...about ways of seeing, but also about the rich complexities of the cross-cultural experience." Ali Jane Smith in The Australian

"What is most striking about Stuart’s poetry is the reverence for individual memory as a human need, as something to possess as the ‘ghost gum disappears into its sapling.’" Kylie Law in Rochford Street Review

"Throughout the vast journeys from rural to city, from the grounded and intimate to the conceptual, Stuart finds his strength in a simpler voice and theme that becomes enriched by his powerful use of imagery and the unexpected intensity of his endings." Kyra Bandte, NSW Writers’ Centre

"...the tangible and sensory mesh with the prophetic and dreamlike to create an assortment of delectable double-exposures and incongruities." Jacqui Wise in UTS U: Magazine

"James Stuart’s first full collection, Anonymous Folk Songs, is not a book to be read in a hurry … This is highly self-aware, literary poetry with clear antecedents, one of which is French symbolism. As the narrator says in the book’s final entry, 'English is a game & I’m not sure I understand myself.' You have been warned." Geoff Page in The Canberra Times

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