Okay, I must admit, this is probably the first contemporary Australian poetry book that I have properly read in a while. And yes I thoroughly enjoyed it and I must thank Amelia for giving me a copy. As always, I have selected 8 poems (which are in no particular order) from Just Your Everyday Apocalypse and provided my own interpretation/analysis for each of them.
1. In Translation
In Translation is packed with metaphors and tells the story of handy-me-downs and thrifted clothing. Walker describes how despite numerous washes, the “fabric” is “flavoured” with “moments that are not [hers]” but of previous owners of the clothing. I really admire her use of alliteration when explaining that thrifted clothing is “a million mixed meanings” open to “minefields of misinterpretation.” It really makes you think about the previous owners of thrifted clothing, what they went through whilst wearing those clothes and the experiences they had. How rips or stains came to be? The mismatching of colours and the intricate stitch work? What era the clothing was from?
Short, simple and sweet. Dedicated to all the mothers out there with odd quirks and carefree attitudes. They might have a “crooked smile” and “varicose veins” but they are still “beautiful” nonetheless.
A poem that highlights some of the atrocities faced by female detainees, mainly focusing on the story of Cornelia Rau. Walker illustrates the horrid conditions these female detainees undergo as they are trapped in “windowless” rooms and must “sh*t” for an “audience of male guards.” She also describes the debilitating impact, life in a detention centre can have on an individual as after leaving and now “safe”, the former detainee is still unable to “let go of the teddy bear she clutched all those dark months.” Walls ends in a startling fashion as Walker describes that even though the woman has left the detention centre, she is unable to escape the “walls” of society as they have “none.”
A direct and brutally honest overview of different life pathways our friends, family and strangers have taken. Pretty self-explanatory.
5. City, Lover, Self
I believe we can all relate to City, Lover, Self regardless of whether you live in Australia or not because we all have places that are like home to us. Walker demonstrates the connection she has with Adelaide, through her use of personification, as she describes she is “intimate” with the “rhythm” of Adelaide’s “soft tissue organs” and “strange scarred body.” By using figurative language, she depicts how each instant details a specific memory of “things that have been or could have been” as “every shop glass shines with the ghost of some moment.”
A point that’s inevitable and you’ll face sooner or later unless you’re extremely lucky. Submerging, as the name suggests, describes the feeling of losing your sense of self. In Walker’s experience, it happened to her “slowly” as she was already “neck deep before [she] realised.” She uses metaphors to describe the symptoms of losing one’s self as she begins “rejecting sun and air” and finds it “hard to breathe” as “glass” is “encasing [her] head.” The line that resonates with me the most is how Walker emphasises how people “who were close” to her feel as if they’re “a million miles away” as she struggles to “follow conversations.” However, the last stanza is somewhat comforting as she is consoled by Circe, the Greek goddess of magic, who now “holds her hand” as her harsh exterior starts to melt away.
Poignant and beautifully written. Walker details the experience of a loved one discovering they have astrocytoma (cancer of the brain) and how despite the crippling nature of the disease they still manage to stay “composed” as “science slice [their] skull into squished butterfly segments.” Here, Walker uses alliteration to explicitly portray the life of this cancer-ridden individual. I also particularly love her use of a Stephen Hawking quote.
“If you jump into a black hole, your mass energy will be returned to our universe, but in a mangled form which contains the information about what you were like but in an unrecognisable state.” (Stephen Hawking, 2004)
I believe this quote serves as a reminder to us all that regardless of the immensity of our problems/issues, they will always be insignificant and eventually be forgotten and “unrecognisable.”
The last lines of Astrocytoma despite being quite grim are also somewhat consoling as we find out that this diseased individual is relieved of their suffering as their “six year migraine” is finally “over.”
I just love how cleverly put together this poem is. Walker organises it into three parts and as you guessed it, it starts off with Part One: SALT, then Part Two: TEQUILA and lastly Part Three: LEMON.
Part One: SALT describes the various uses of salt and allows us to contemplate the nature of salt as it is used to “sanctify” in Japanese Shinto culture but also deemed “unhealthy” and “indulgent” in Western culture.
The last lines lead nicely into Part Two: Tequila as salt “addiction” causes “thirst.”
I feel Part Two: Tequila describes the intoxicating and blinding effects of alcohol but also, its power to provide us with temporary ecstasy. Walker’s decision to provide a short story of the discovery of Tequila really enhances this poem.
Part Three: LEMON delves into a fond memory of Walker “picking lemons” with her grandmother as a young child. She describes through her use of personification that her closest feeling of being drunk at that age is when she swims in “scents of citrus and cinnamon.”
I particularly love the last stanza which I feel is pretty self-explanatory.
If you liked this review, I would love to hear from you.
Also, if you’re interested in purchasing Just Your Everyday Apocalypse you can do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org , FYI it’s only $10 a copy!