None Of Us Alone by Jonathan Shaw

‘This is just to say …’

I have, thanks to Lisa at ANZ LitLovers LitBlog | For lovers of Australian and New Zealand literary fiction; Ambassador for Australian literature, a copy of this chapbook.

Before I read the poems, I had to remind myself what a chapbook is, and where the term came from. I am easily distracted these days. I read that chapbooks were sold by peddlers known as chapmen. Chap comes from the Old English for trade; therefore, a chapman was a dealer who sold books.

This particular chapbook contains 24 poems covering a variety of different forms and contemporary topics.

Those topics include climate change, some political comments (‘Dear Tony’ indeed) as well as acute observations on life.

I have three favourites in this collection:

’10 March 2020’ which starts:

‘Drought, fire flood, and now this virus.

Covid-19 tops the bill.’

‘This is just to say’ which starts:

‘We walked out of you play last night

from front row seats. We’d hung in there

for five whole scenes.’

And ends:

‘Last night had timing, lines that sing

and sting. It’s heart that wasn’t there.

Sometimes a pause is just dead air.’

And finally,

‘If not now, when?’

With two lines in the middle which have grabbed my attention and taken up residence in my mind:

‘The place was old, and I was new.

I didn’t hear its age-old stories.’

A short collection of poems to read, reflect on and read again.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

#AussieAuthor2021