Kerri Shying is a poet of Chinese, Australian and Wiradjuri heritage who recently published sing out when you want me, a poetry collection that arose from receiving a Writing NSW Early Career Writer Grant in 2016. Membership & development officer Sherry Landow caught up with Kerri about the collection and other writing projects.
Flying Islands Pocket Poet Publications
Knitting Mangrove Roots
In National Library of Australia
Kerri Shying’s poetry taps into a very rich vein of experience. The work draws the reader in like an old friend, combining nourishing warmth with a subtle, snarky humour so precise, you can’t help laughing out loud. Knitting Mangrove Roots is Shying’s third book of poetry. The cover features a handmade “scarecrow” that is both homely and exotic, which is a good description of the poetry in this work. Though the book is the handsome pocket-size that Flying Island Books have become known for, Knitting Mangrove Roots is very much a full length collection. There are 86 poems in quite small text, each following the “elevensies” form that Shying invented and used to good effect in her book Elevensies, published in 2018 as part of Puncher and Wattman’s Slow Loris series. The form involves poems of eleven lines, with a jutting, italicised title in the middle separating the first and last parts. There is no punctuation, and everything is in lower case which gives the poems a soft quality that underlines Shying’s sharp vision. The unique structure of these poems presents a continuum from piece to piece as the title leans out towards the next poem. It almost feels as those these italicised titles form their own poem working simultaneously with the other pieces and sitting outside perimeter of the page. Each poem is short enough to read quickly and dense enough to savour through multiple re-readings.
sing out when you want me
“sing out when you need me is a powerful collection which reads easily but continues to reveal secrets and expand outward with each re-reading. The mostly short poems stay with you, becoming little charms against all of our inevitable deteriorations. It is all about “keeping going” which, in the face of pain, poverty, confinement, medical visits, the poking and prodding of life itself, becomes a heroic, transcendent act:”
Reviewed by Magdalena Ball Compulsive Reader June 2018