Review of Anne Casey’s ‘out of emptied cups’.

Issue sevenIssue Seven Reviews

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A kookaburra laughing
carries me home through the clearing
where the wattles are bursting
their golden crowns dancing
against a brooding backdrop and
rainbow lorikeets will swoop
in later lifting our hearts
out of emptied cups and
away with them into
the heavens (Casey 2019).

As the Manager Editor of Backstory and Other Terrain, I could not be more proud of the team making our two writing journals a reality. We not only have a very talented and hard working student team, but also three extremely talented and stellar Senior Editors who help steer the smooth sailing of producing these journals twice a year.

One of our Senior Editors is the extraordinarily gifted poet Anne Casey. I had come away reading ‘where the lost things go’, Casey’s first collection of poetry, in awe of the power of her words and the perfection of her poetry. ‘out of emptied cups’, Casey’s new work left me equally in awe.

The ancients once said the stars made music which no one can hear – but it is there – real, speaking to our souls. The music of Casey’s poetry we can indeed hear. Her poetry sings with honesty, striking at the reader’s heart. Casey is an amazingly skilful poet unafraid to experiment with rhyme and meter. Her poems become art on the page as their message is not brought home by words, but often through word shapes depicted like hearts or chalices.

‘out of emptied cups’ is truly a courageous, beautiful body of work. Reading Casey’s poems reminded me of what the poet Muriel Rukeyser once said: ‘What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open’. Casey’s truth confronts us in her poetry, and challenges us to gaze through her eyes. First world women will recognise the world they face and must surmount everyday in so many of the poems in this work – like in this poem, ‘A portrait of a woman walking home’:

I know you are making extreme efforts to lessen the sway there is a certain gait

you cannot ameliorate in this corporate get-up—skirt over heels over female pelvis

and it is so obviously more-than-a-little inadvisable for you to have placed yourself in

this delicate position where you might be seen to provoke a certain reaction in an onlooker

of a particular disposition—it being late and you quite clearly under-dressed for the hour and

with every breath you take wondering why it is                                              we have to watch

ourselves like this (Casey 2019)

Casey’s poems speak her truth, a woman’s truth, the truth we all need to listen to, if we want the world to change. They are indeed the cry and call of the brave.

Leaving behind nights of secrets and dread, I rise.

Into a daybreak that’s flushed fulsome red, I rise.

Bringing the rage that my fine sisters gave,

I am the cry and the call of the brave.

I rise, I rise, I rise (Casey 2019).