This dissertation is comprised of two distinct but related components. The first,
Aria, is a full-length manuscript of around forty lyric poems, many of which have been
published in literary journals, newspapers and anthologies. The collection traverses a
range of subjects – the lives of composers, landscapes, travel, family – but has at its heart
a preoccupation with the lyric’s origins in music, voice, and cadence. The poems are
divided into three sections, and have been arranged with an attentiveness to the aural
resonances and echoes between poems, rather than by theme or subject matter.
Consequently, poems which borrow figures and masks from history and art are
deliberately interwoven with poems about the autobiographical present. Taken together,
the poems form a kind of sheet music; a score to be read and inhabited. Aria won the
2007 Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize, and will be published by the University of
Queensland Press in 2008.
The accompanying exegesis, Sight Reading, is an exploration of the work of the
American poet Louise Glück , who has had a formative and lasting impact on my
conception of the lyric and the possibilities of lyric address. The essay is divided into
small sections – portraits of individual poems – which combine, I think, to paint a
portrait of my poetics as much as Glück’s. Taking one poem from each of her ten
collections, I read her work chronologically, tracing the development of her voice from
her savage, fragmentary debut in Firstborn to the mature voice of her most recentcollections. I use the exegesis as a space not only to read and map Glück ’s voice closely,
but also as a space to articulate my own relationship with her work and her voice. The
exegesis closes with a meditation on the question of influence and my own poetics.