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Accidents of Composition
Accidents of Composition

Accidents of Composition


174 Pages, 6 x 8.25

Formats: Trade Paper, PDF, Mobipocket, EPUB

Trade Paper, $17.95 (US $17.95) (CA $23.95)

Publication Date: September 2017

ISBN 9781742199986

Rights: US, CA & MX

Spinifex Press (Sep 2017)


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Is it the sun a hole sucking in a bird or Icarus about to singe the sun? Which composes which? The poet asks as she circumnavigates the globe, history, and an inner universe. When it responds, there's the small shudder, the sprawl of a spin, or the quiet before and after a full circle. The eyes catch a black bird close to an eerie sun. Instantly, a poem: an accident of composition. Or a tree, rock, light from a story heard, dreamt, read or remembered returns as if it were the only tree, rock, light in the planet. The poet is caught, returned to her first heart: poetry. After four novels, Merlinda offers poems from the stillness of contemplation to the spinning of tales, then to passage across different histories. Glass becomes eternal greens underwater, fish gossip about colonisation, a gumnut turns dissident, and the dreams of Captain Cook and Pigafetta circumnavigate the globe leaving a trail of blood, beads, and the scent of cloves. But in between, the poet hopes: 'there could be accidents / of kindness here.'


"The volcanics of poem and story are among [Bobis'] driving forces. But here 'the weight of what we have written' carries a new urgency. What is at stake is the deep kinship of all life mediated by our own species. Just as a 'tiny gumnut' is a 'primeval dissident', so the 'presuming poet' must keep 'tuning in'. Awe, grief, joy, love are among her companions of choice. The journey leaves none untouched." —Patricia Sykes 

"In these troubled times tainted with fear, hate, and despair, 'there is hope for us,' the poems assure us. In them I hear an exquisite polyphony of voices: passionate and poised, sensuous and serene, lyrical and philosophical. Like incantations, these poems ask to be read and heard aloud." —Subhash Jaireth

"A very vivid work. Sometimes immediately sensitive/sensual, sometimes deliberately rough-edged, but always well-expressed, well-principled and well-considered, and always thankfully 'still tuning in'." —Jennifer Maiden

Author Biography

Merlinda Bobis is a multi-awarded writer with 4 novels, 6 poetry books, and a collection of short stories. She performed her one-woman plays at various venues internationally. Borders and difference, women and girls, geopolitics and environment, war and memory, the poetics and politics of care are among the subjects of her various literary, performance, and scholarly works. She taught Creative Writing for 21 years at University of Wollongong and is currently Honorary Senior Lecturer at The Australian National University. Her latest poetry book Accidents of Composition (Spinifex August 2017) circumnavigates the globe, history, and an inner universe. Awards: Locust Girl: A Lovesong: The prestigious 2016 Christina Stead Prize for Fiction NSW Premier's Literary Award. Three Philippine National Book Awards (2016: Locust Girl, 2014: Fish-Hair Woman, 2000: White Turtle); 2013 MUBA from Australia's Small Press Network: Fish-Hair Woman; 2000 Steele Rudd Award for the Best Published Collection of Australian Short Stories: White Turtle; 2006 Philippine National Balagtas Award for her poetry and prose (in English, Filipino and Bikol); 1998 Prix Italia, 1998 Australian Writers' Guild Award, 1995 Ian Reed Radio Drama Prize: play Rita's Lullaby; three Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature Poetry Category (2016: Second prize, 1989: Second, 1987: First). Her shortlistings include the 2016 ACT Book of the Year: Locust Girl; 2006 Literature Society Gold Medal: novel Banana Heart Summer; 1998 The Age Poetry Book of the Year: Summer Was a Fast Train Without Terminals.