I Write, Zohab Khan
Khan is an Australian slam poet (2014 Australian Poetry Slam Champion) who writes in a way that forces me to think differently. I had the immense pleasure of listening to him in 2015 in a room crammed with poets and writers, all of us, ears to the ground, hushed as we let his words soak our collective consciousness.
I have reread his book a few times now and each time gather more insight into his life as an Australian, and how that is so different to mine despite our parallel citizenship. I hope more young poets rise to the surface like Khan and remind us of why we write.
And Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
It has taken me years to work up the courage to read this book and when I did I let the full emotion saturate my mind and soul. I knew the effect her words would have on me and I was not disappointed.
Angelou’s words sing off the page just like her audible voice did on the stage and one cannot read this or anything else she wrote without hearing her speak. That adds an incredibly indelible mark on the reader/listener and her words are as relevant today as they were when penned.
As a caucasian Australian woman, I am completely without knowledge of the hardships faced by anyone outside my small societal bubble and am grateful for people like Angelou who have the courage to voice their life, their pain, and their wisdom. Without it, I would be a lesser person. To have met her would have been transformative, I am sure.
The Beckoning, Stephen Roach
A tiny book of verse, The Beckoning is by a poet I met in Bryon Bay, Australia, and sat under for three days with a dozen or so other eagre poets-in-waiting. Spiritual and earthy in nature, Roach explores the depths of faith for himself and his society and has a refreshing take on what spiritual poetry looks like.
Far from insipid or lofty, his words resonate with the world as it stands, his observations quiet yet profound, un-judging and wise. I was blessed to spend time listening to this poet and inspired and motivated by his words: poetry doesn’t have to always be clear – you’re allowed to be ambiguous, to be opaque. It deepened my courage to write outside the lines and I go back to his words often for further encouragement.
Fire Diary, Mark Tredinnick
Fire Diary is a poetry collection I refer to often for visual stimulation and reference. His work gave me permission as a poet to explore form on the page with sentences re-structured in unconventional ways, his explanation that sometimes the words must be arrested to bring our attention full circle.
Again another poet I had the privilege to listen to and learn from. Winner of the 2011 Montreal Poetry Prize and 2102 Cardiff Poetry Prize, Tredinnick took a group of us on a day-long tour of the poem, encouraging us to explore our own worlds and sew them into the fibres of the pages we were writing instead of writing predictable and marketable verse.
Vagabondage, Beth Spencer
This book was the recipient of The Age Short Story Award, the inaugural Dinny O’Hearn Fellowship, and several other awards and achievements, Spencer tells an engaging and visual story throughout Vagabond, reliving her experiences in a campervan, the journey takes us into ‘the pleasures and challenges of being in service to freedom.
I found this book and the way it has been constructed, so refreshing. Spencer’s warmth and honesty pull the heart right into her story but in a way that is not aggressive, but gentle and non-plussed. Her language very Australian and ‘everyday’ I was inspired by the autobiographical style she used and found myself in agreement with the praise she received for the book: empowering, witty, and incisive.
Miriam E. Miles writes on mental wellness, faith, societal relationship, and how these topics intersect. Based in the Hunter Valley, Australia, her passion is to expand a reader’s understanding and challenge them to think outside their own metrics. She has recently released Phoenix, an abstract poetic autobiography chronicling the battle toward mental wellness through the lens of faith. Visit her at http://www.miriammiles.com