John Kinsella’s ‘Graphology Poems’ reviewed by William Yeoman

‘Modulation is here used in its musical sense of changing key. But the dominant metaphor of the Graphology Poems — the home key, if you will — is the concept of graphology itself. Like other WA poets such as Nandi Chinna and Annamaria Weldon, Kinsella writes the land and himself in the process.’

‘There is something of the calligraphic quality of Fred Williams’ landscapes here, or Lee Krasner’s dense calligraphic Little Image paintings of the late 1940s.
But there is also the idea of the poet as seismologist, ever alert to slippages of meaning and moralities rather than tectonic plates, and of the ensuing shock waves.’

‘If you don’t know [Kinsella’s] fiercely political, deeply humane poetry, which like its maker or indeed any of us is capable of being simple and direct or complicated and abstruse, there’s never been a better time than now to change that.’

The full review, published in The West Australian can be found here.

Graphology Poems: 1995–2015 can be purchased here.

David McCooey launches John Kinsella’s ‘Graphology Poems’

‘”Graphology” puts in train any number of Kinsella-esque concerns: identity, authenticity, memory, place, representation, power, and textuality itself. Facsimiles of handwriting, doodles, and even scribble, can be found in these pages, but even more notable, more ‘telling’, are the poetic images of the vast material history of writing found here.’

Many thanks to David McCooey for his wonderful launch speech, the full text of which can be read here.

Graphology Poems: 1995–2015 can be purchased here.

Launch of ‘Graphology Poems 1995–2015′ by John Kinsella

Please join us at Readings, Carlton, on Tuesday 25 October, for the launch of John Kinsella’s Graphology Poems 1995–2015. This limited edition three-volume set is the culmination of twenty years’ of writing for Kinsella—a landmark work of poetry by one of Australia’s foremost poets.

To be launched by David McCooey, with a reading by John Kinsella. Refreshments provided. All welcome.

Please note that, due to double-booking by Readings, the launch is now set at 8pm for 8:30pm, rather than at 6pm.


Ron Pretty Poetry Prize Extended

Many thanks to all the poets who have entered to date.

Over the past two months, the Five Islands Press website and Ron Pretty Poetry Prize entry page have been down at least twice. This is fixed now. But the Press wants to offer poets more time to enter the prize.

We are extending the prize until 22 November 2016.

With this new deadline, the long list will now be announced on 21 January 2017.

The short list will be announced on 31 January 2017.

The prize winner will be announced at an event on 3 March 2017.

Louise Nicholas’s ‘The List of Last Remaining’ reviewed by Lucy Dougan

‘Louise Nicholas’s The List of Last Remaining very satisfyingly brings together a substantial body of her work. Its five, intelligently ordered sections each rise up to enact their shimmering, persuasive world and then fade out to make way for the next.’

The full review, published in Cordite, can be found here.

The List of Last Remaining can be purchased here.

Anne Elvey’s ‘Kin’ reviewed by Barnaby Smith

‘[I]n the elegant Kin, Elvey offers a compelling and sonorous interpretation [of ecopoetics]. For her, it is the poetics of compassion and kindness, extending in every direction possible.’

The full review, published in Southerly, can be found here.

Kin can be purchased here.

Anne Elvey’s ‘Kin’ reviewed by Dimitra Harvey

‘At her best, Elvey observes human embeddedness within complex, vibrant, non-human spheres with keen linguistic control and playfulness.’

The full review, published in Mascara Literary Review, can be found here.

Kin can be purchased here.

Ouyang Yu’s ‘Fainting with Freedom’ reviewed by Tse Hao Guang

‘Ouyang Yu’s Fainting with Freedom is soap-bubble language. It lives halfway between being and becoming, full of conversational breath, reflective of the mind that created it, bilingual and annoyed, bored and shocked at its own boredom.’

The full review, published in Text, can be found here.

Fainting with Freedom can be purchased here.

In Memoriam: Lyn Hatherly (1945–2016)

Five Islands Press wishes to acknowledge an immense debt to Lyn Hatherly: a poet, scholar, and, for the past ten years, an editor, colleague, friend and tireless worker for the Press. Without her, the Press would not have survived beyond the years of Ron Pretty’s directorship. We offer our sympathy and share in the feelings of loss for her partner Chris Peters and Lyn’s extended family.

A memorial service in celebration of Lyn’s life will be held at 10am on Thursday 7 April at Montsalvat. The service will take place in the upper level of the Great Hall. After the ceremony, refreshments will be served in the lower level. Please choose your attire to reflect Lyn’s bright personality.

In place of sending flowers, Lyn’s family has requested that those wishing to honour Lyn’s memory consider donating a small amount to the Olivia-Newton John Cancer & Wellness Centre, which provided care for Lyn in her last hours. Envelopes will be provided at the service.

Please RSVP to by Saturday 2 April to assist with catering. All are welcome to join the colleagues, students, poets, philosophers and friends who have known, admired and loved Lyn over the years.




Ouyang Yu’s ‘Fainting with Freedom’ reviewed by Bonny Cassidy

‘The poems in Fainting with Freedom emphasize that empathy is not sameness, just as dwelling should not be confused with belonging, nor language with unity. Rather, the “state” to which Yu belongs is the poem itself.’

The full review, published in Jacket2, can be found here.

Fainting with Freedom can be purchased here.


Ouyang Yu’s ‘Fainting with Freedom’ reviewed by Ali Jane Smith

Fainting with Freedom includes prose poems, easy-to-read lyric poems, strange disjointed poems, thin poems, wide poems, long and short poems, poems that speak plainly and poems that cut up words. What’s consistent is the sense of control, maintained and relinquished. Yu’s precise lines, steady, speech-like rhythms, logical sequences of related ideas give way to absurd associations, unexpected images, wildness. These two modes of writing are kept in balance, each used to upset the other.’

The full review, published in The Australian, can be found here.

Fainting with Freedom can be purchased here.


Ouyang Yu’s ‘Fainting with Freedom’ reviewed by Elena Gomez

‘Though a playful exploration of the sounds, textures and semantics of English and Chinese languages, this collection hints at a deeper ambiguity with the world and how we make meaning of and in it.’

‘Most enjoyable about this collection is the way it often borrows the language of profundity only to almost immediately cut it down at the knees. It’s poetry that is wry, curly, tonal and suspicious of platitudes.’

The full review, published in Overland, can be found here.

Fainting with Freedom can be purchased here.

Ouyang Yu’s ‘Fainting with Freedom’ features on three ‘Best of 2015′ lists

It is with great pride that we see Ouyang Yu’s superb collection Fainting with Freedom featuring on three ‘Best of 2015′ lists from the following readers:

Authors on the Readings bookstore website.

John Kinsella in ABR:

‘Ouyang Yu’s work continues to astonish me with its shifts and range, and Fainting with Freedom (Five Islands Press) is among his finest work.’

Alex Miller in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian:

‘Deceptively simple and direct, Ouyang Yu’s language in Fainting with Freedom (5 Islands Press) challenges and mystifies, leading us into dark places where sudden shafts of understanding engulf us. Wisdom and beauty speak side by side here. It is poetry of a double voice arising from two equal languages. His brilliant insights are directed towards the self, his own self, the most devastating and the most revealing of them leading to something that is the nature of his own truth. It is a rich truth in which the Australian he has become is brother to the Chinese soul from which the deepest tones of his unique voice are sounded. The freedom of the title is a dangerous and a sublime place for this poet. Ouyang’s is a poetry that never strains after its own centre but leaves a silence rich in meaning and even menace, and always of mystery, like the still centre of a storm, where the sense of his words is held in that perfection we call poetry, the silence between the words. An utterly satisfying collection. Some of the finest poetry ever written in this country. What is most absurd is most often where Yu finds his eloquence, his inspiration arising from a place of contradiction and profound empathy. This is his most powerful collection yet.’

Fainting with Freedom can be purchased here.

Ouyang Yu’s ‘Fainting with Freedom’ reviewed by Michael Aiken

‘This book contains microcosms of alertness to the oddity of language as language, the arbitrary way meaning is distorted or inflected by unfamiliar acts of repetition, the use of phrases grammatically correct but somehow socially bizarre/inept, or the inappropriate use of passive or active voice.’

‘The playful self-deprecation in this book feels honest without being earnest, self-critical without being self-effacing; subtle but showy.’

‘Reasserting the value of the subject in the living world seems to be a driving mission of the verse. Whether or not we can describe the ineffable, or comprehend it, to exist is to know the ineffable exists. This book is a celebration, a condemnation, and a defiant incitement to go with boldness, to be amongst it.’

The full review, published in Cordite, can be found here.

Fainting with Freedom can be purchased here.

On the topic of Remembrance, ‘This Intimate War’ pops up in The Age


This Intimate War is a recent book of poems by Dr Robyn Rowland. With the Turkish translations next to them, these poems do not talk about glory; they tell of the horrors suffered by both sides. “Children of Gallipoli” tells of the young ones who lied about their age while “recruiters knew, slid their eyes away”. Some 18,000 English boys under 19 were killed at the Somme and “at Gallipoli ‘colonial lad’ Jim Martin was dead at 14″. We read of the anguish of the Turkish wife in “When he was young, once”, who gets delivered home to her a man whose mind and body she does not know any more. “She wanted him back. Not this.” Then there was Aborigine Arthur, who had to say he “was half-caste to get in”. The book’s title acknowledges the closeness that developed between the “colonial lads” and the Turks. But, oh, the price paid for that closeness when one reads a line like this: “He watched the boy’s brain leak away.”
– Janna Hilbrink, Northcote

Link to the article at The Age online:–the-shared-hell—of-war-20151112-gkxgfb


Delay in processing book orders

Due to some recent technical issues with Paypal, there’s been some delay in processing and sending out book orders. If you’ve placed an order but have not yet received your book, please send an email to:

Apologies for any inconvenience caused – we appreciate your patience while we sort this out.

Jennifer Compton’s ‘Now You Shall Know’ reviewed by Geoff Page

‘Jennifer Compton’s new collection, Now You Shall Know, has an early late-career energy about it – and a focus on what is really important. Not for her the post-postmodern language games. As she notes at the end of her autobiographical poem, “We are farmed out”, Compton has long been a “noticing kind of child” and her hands-on expertise includes not only horse riding, gardening and playwriting but human nature generally—particularly in its familial embodiments.’

The full review, published in The Sydney Morning Herald, can be found here.

Now You Shall Know can be purchased here.


Jennifer Compton’s ‘Now You Shall Know’ reviewed by Luke Simon

‘”Now You Shall Know”, a poem filled with complex imagery, painful dialogue and dramatic verve, won the Newcastle Poetry Prize and is [Compton’s] latest eponymous poetry collection. The book is divided into six different sections, entitled in turn: awaiting our delivery, oh, a rapt downwards look, in the long run, wrenched backwards, and, somehow urgent. These poems concern themselves with aspects of family life and with themes of loss, grief, change, and memory.’

The full review, published in Rochford Street Review, can be found here.

Now You Shall Know can be purchased here.


Lisa Gorton launches Robyn Rowland’s ‘This Intimate War’

‘No poem can change the past. But a poem, if it is strong enough, can change the way in which we remember the past – our own, or our culture’s. It can change the kinds of facts that we notice. And when it changes the kinds of facts that we notice in the past, it changes the present, too.’

The full launch speech, published in Rochford Street Review, can be found here.

This Intimate War can be purchased here.

Anne Elvey’s ‘Kin’ reviewed by Rose Lucas

Kin, Anne Elvey’s first full collection of poetry, brings together a wide range of poems full of light and the acuity of close attention. These poems focus on a world of interrelationships where tree and water, creature and human, air and breathing, coexist—suggestive of an underlying philosophy of humility and acceptance.’

The full review, published in ABR, can be found here.

Kin can be purchased here.

Anne Elvey’s ‘Kin’ reviewed by Geoff Page

Kin is Anne Elvey’s first full collection, following on from three chapbooks, and its maturity shows. Though, as with any first collection, its manner and content can vary somewhat, Elvey’s book is consistently doing things only poetry can do. In her case, this involves significant environmental and religious dimensions but there is no unwelcome preaching.’

The full review, published in both the Sydney Morning Herald and The Canberra Times, can be found here.

Kin can be purchased here.

Anne Elvey’s ‘Kin’ reviewed by Michael Farrell

‘The poems of Anne Elvey’s Kin, dedicated to her father, elaborate on the title, productively making it stand for blood and other kinds of relation. There’s a level of intimate observation to these empathic poems that marks Elvey as a contemporary of poets such as John Anderson.’

The full review, published in The Australian, can be found here.

Kin can be purchased here.

Anne Elvey’s ‘Kin’ reviewed by Cassandra Atherton

‘The kinship Elvey forges between her poems and ecological criticism lends both rigour and reverence to her first full-length collection of poetry. There is a radiant stasis at the core of her poems that encourages the reader to listen to the susurration of multiple, overlapping conversations to which Elvey is contributing.’

The full review, published in Cordite, can be found here.

Kin can be purchased here.

Michelle Leber’s ‘The Yellow Emperor’ reviewed by Geoff Page

‘Leber is adept at suggesting characteristics of the Chinese “original”, as it were, while generating compelling poetry in modern English…The Yellow Emperor is a strange but curiously satisfying achievement.’

The full review, published in both the Age and Sydney Morning Herald, can be found here.

The Yellow Emperor can be purchased here.

‘Breaking New Sky’, edited by Ouyang Yu, reviewed by Dimitra Harvey

Breaking New Sky, a new collection of poems selected and translated by Ouyang, presents work from forty-six established and emerging Chinese (including Taiwanese) poets, born predominantly between the late 50s and 80s (though some as early as 1913 and as late as 2002). The collection’s title—a play on the Western idiom “breaking new ground” – connotes innovation, originality, and also risk. It embodies contemporary Chinese poetry’s iconoclasm, as well as Ouyang’s desire to introduce “something new” into the Australian literary landscape.’

The full review, published in Mascara Literary Review, can be found here.

Breaking New Sky can be purchased here.

Michelle Leber’s ‘The Yellow Emperor’ reviewed by Lucy Van

‘Leber is a Melbourne-based poet and a clinician of Chinese medicine, and in this, her second volume of poetry, she merges the two practices in an archaeological translation of Han mythology that finds it art through listening to the body. The work, part verse-novel, part poetic mythography, imagines the origins of the Yellow Emperor legend by dramatising the core principles of Chinese medicine. The project is certainly impressive in scope, a daring and highly ambitious application of the diagnostic art to the purpose of mythological reconstruction.’

The full review, published in Cordite, can be found here.

The Yellow Emperor can be purchased here.

Michelle Leber’s ‘The Yellow Emperor’ reviewed by Ruby Todd

‘Through spare, vivid images, Leber deftly conveys a sense of the immediacy of history, the materiality of myth, and the way that the singular detail can convey a truth that is timeless and universal.’

The full review, in the April edition of Text, can be found here.

The Yellow Emperor can be purchased here.

Susan Bradley Smith’s ‘Beds For All Who Come’ reviewed by Susie Utting

‘The contents page of Beds for All Who Come suggests a poetic ride rich in intertextual and sub-textual allusions, as well as public and personal historical details. The Prologue, with its single poem entry “Girl on fire in the eucalypt gulag: Germaine Greer witnessing the end of the world” introduces a cast of characters who appear in three separate Acts: Clementine and Sarah Churchill, Sylvia Plath and Frieda Hughes, and Ulrike Meinhof and Bettina Röhl. All these mothers and daughters write poems. With this cast in mind the reader begins her own journey to explore Smith’s collection.’

The full review, in the April edition of Text, can be found here.

Beds For All Who Come can be purchased here.

Anne Elvey’s ‘Kin’ reviewed by Jessica Wilkinson

‘Elegantly political, Kin inspires attentiveness in us as readers, and suggests that such small-scale quietude—toward detail, sensations, our non-human earth others—may offer a pathway for ecological and spiritual reparation.’

The full review, in the April edition of Text, can be found here.

Kin can be purchased here.


Anne Elvey’s ‘Kin’ shortlisted for the 2015 Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry

Congratulations to the luminous and talented Anne Elvey, whose book Kin has been shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Prize this year. Keeping fine company with Michael Aiken, Judith Beveridge, Libby Hart, John Mateer and David Malouf.

The judges’ comments on Kin can be read below; comments on the other shortlisted books can be found here. Best of luck to all!


‘This spare poetry investigates the body as a sensorium in its careful observations of the various ways of being in the world. The poetry’s sensual lyricism demonstrates how, through the body, we experience gravity, weather, light and sound. Skin is one interface between us and other humans and between us and the natural and urban world. The language of the poetry is itself a kind of skin that registers the bodily experience of kinship with trees, birds, sand and rain but also with the urban environment of steel, bitumen and glass.
These relationships are fragile; the poems remind us of human mortality. Ecological damage and death also impact upon the non-human world and much of the poetry has an elegiac tone. The possibility of forgiveness and grace flutter at the edges of these poems like the many birds they figure. The poems also investigate other forms of kinship such as ethical non-Indigenous approaches to Aboriginal country and the memorialisation of loss and destruction. Kin is a meditative and thoughtful collection. It is marked with an unobtrusive erudition and intertextual references to a number of other poets ranging from Wilfred Owen to Judith Wright.’


Kin can be purchased here.

Sam Moginie reviews ‘Breaking New Sky’, edited by Ouyang Yu

Breaking New Sky is a happily variegated collection of work by contemporary Chinese poets, edited and translated by Chinese-Australian poet, novelist and translator Ouyang Yu. Strangeness produced by means of a “neutral” or “plain” English (a “Yu signature tone”) gives the poems and their objects a riddle-like quality whose pleasures and dramas implicate food, sex, work, river systems, animals, domestic space, relationships, the medical system, nostalgia, death, farming and sleep. This plainness is put to work as the material of an aphoristic narrative mode that defines this anthology; making small claims continuously and thereby amassing charm.’

See the full review on Cordite here.

Breaking New Sky can be purchased here.

Thanks to everyone who came along to Collected Works last night

We heard a diverse range of poetry from many poets Five Islands Press have published over the years, including; Lisa Jacobson, Anne Elvey, Grant Caldwell, Libby Hart, Susan Bradley Smith, and Michelle Leber. Lyn Hatherly, one of our editors, also read from Ouyang Yu’s Breaking New Sky. 

Many of our poets, including Lisa Jacobson and Susan Bradley Smith, had fond stories to share about our founder Ron Pretty and his service to poetry. Susan spoke of how he convinced her to go overseas in the space of 5 words, and Lisa of his resemblance to Father Christmas. Perhaps it was best summed up by Kevin Brophy: that Ron published over 230 books of poetry, and “nobody knows how he did it”. Recounting his legacy was a fitting way to launch the inaugural Ron Pretty Prize 2014 and our new subscriptions initiative.

We also displayed our arty promotional short-film for the prize, which was adapted from Richard James Allen’s poem ‘Twins’. Many thanks to everyone involved last night, both physically and digitally!

John Kinsella’s ‘The Vision of Error’ reviewed by Helen Moore

‘Tracing territory familiar from several previous collections, this anti-pastoral of the Western Australian “Wheatbelt” (“Tens of thousands of acres of GM canola / […] / feeding frenzy”) now substantially relies/builds on his readers’ fore-knowledge.’

The full review, published in Wolf Magazine, can be found here.

The Vision of Error can be purchased here.

Some articles on the lovely Lisa Jacobson…

In case you have been living under a rock with your fingers in your ears, Lisa Jacobson’s Sunlit Zone took out the 2014 John Bray Prize, and has been shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s, the Stella Prize, and the Wesley Michel Wright Prize.

Early this year, the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age featured Lisa in some articles:
Read here:
Read here:

The 2014 Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature Shortlist was announced a couple days ago and surprise, surprise…

Lisa Jacobson’s ‘The Sunlit Zone’ is once again featured in the running. You can view the shortlist here:






Lisa Jacobson’s ‘The Sunlit Zone’ reviewed by Linda Weste

‘In each verse novel, the unique relationship of poetic and narrative elements leads to a dynamic duality of design. Lisa Jacobson’s verse novel, The Sunlit Zone, illustrates how productive this interplay of narrative and poetic elements can be…’

The full review, published in Mascara Literary Review, can be found here.

The Sunlit Zone can be purchased here.

Five Islands Press were well represented at The Stella Prize last night…

Our managing co-editor Kevin Brophy headed along to support Lisa Jacobson. ‘The Sunlit Zone’ did not take out the main prize, but congratulations to the gracious winner Carrie Tiffany who selflessly shared some prize-money with the shortlist. Thanks also to the organizers of the Stella Prize, especially Megan Quinlan, for running such a tight ship.

CLICK HERE to read a Q&A that The Stella Prize conducted with Lisa, it gives you exclusive insight into her “writing place”.

Congratulations to Lisa Jacobson for making the long-list of the prestigious Stella Prize…

You can view the long-list here and for those of you who haven’t read The Sunlit Zone yet, this introspective Cordite review by Jessica Wilkinson may be of interest to you.

Chair of the Stella Prize judging panel, Kerryn Goldsworthy, says:

Out of the almost 200 original entries, the judges have arrived at a varied and eclectic longlist that reflects the breadth of imagination, knowledge and skill in contemporary Australian women’s writing. The list includes a collection of short stories, a fantasy novel, a speculative-fiction verse novel, and three non-fiction books with very different subjects and styles. There are mixed-genre books involving biography, history, memoir and art; there are novels about real people, and nonfiction books using the beautiful writing techniques of fiction. There are stories from the past and from the future; stories of children at risk, of racial tension, of world travel, and of unimaginable danger and loss.

The judges will now decide on a shortlist that will be announced on Wednesday 20 March.

The Internet seems to have swallowed some more exciting news of ours, Michelle Cahill and Lisa Jacobson have both been short-listed…

Congratulations to Lisa Jacobson, The Sunlit Zone has been short-listed for the prestigious Wesley Michel Wright Prize for Poetry 2012.

Michelle Cahill has also been short-listed for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, please vote for Vishvarupa in the Poetry category.

You can vote here:

Here is Michelle pictured several times with Premier Ted Baillieu –


Congratulations to Mal McKimmie for taking out the Age Book of the Year Award 2012 for Poetry…

It was announced last Thursday at the Melbourne Writers Festival that The Brokenness Sonnets I-III & Other Poems had been awarded The Age poetry prize.
The book of the year was awarded to James Boyce.

Here is Mal featured in The Age on Friday –

Mal has also been mentioned by one of our favourite bloggers LiteraryMinded –