Lemon Shark, Luke Beesley
" These gorgeous poems are ‘sunwashed’ but ‘completely human.’ They are literary and elegant, ‘lively in the bright world.’ "- Bronwyn Lea
This powerful first collection from one of Australia's major emerging poets explores the grace and sensuality of language, with particular attention to Queensland sunlight, surfaces, and an intimate place within conversations. Many of the poems refer to a relationship between books and reading, films, and visual art. In Beesley's own words, "Essentially, too, Lemon Shark is about love, and an idiosyncratic sort of silliness or absurdity." Certain to be recognised as an Australian poetry classic in years to come.
About the book
"Lemon Shark explores the grace and sensuality of language, with particular attention to Queensland sunlight, surfaces, and an intimate place within conversations," said Luke. "I'm interested in the path of sunlight over a surface as a kind of peeling back, or a way towards undressing language to reveal some kind of truth - or to notice the particular shapes of words - all the while circling with a fragrance and a colour. These instincts and colours inform the visual language that I'm attracted to in cinema, too, even if the films are those of Asia or America."
Some of the poems in Lemon Shark were written in 2003 while Luke was writing in a studio on the top floor of the Metro Arts Building in Brisbane's CBD where, in Luke's words, "the studio window took in the sky and the sharp reflections off city buildings." Others were written in the Blue Mountains during a Varuna Writer's Retreat Fellowship (from the Eleanor Dark Foundation) in 2004, and were heavily influenced by the quickly changing weather of that climate, and the architecture of Eleanor Dark's house and library.
The more recent material in Lemon Shark refers to an intimate relationship between books and reading. "This writing alongside films, books and visual art uncovers a place that's not quite critique, and offers the opportunity to place myself or a character or a memory or dialogue into the poem's motion, and in doing so I can attempt to play with a poem's voice, and give images a cinematic quality. Essentially, too, Lemon Shark is about love, and an idiosyncratic sort of silliness or absurdity."
Some of the poems in Lemon Shark are taken from Something Has Happened to Beauty - a manuscript Luke wrote in 2003 with the assistance of an Arts Queensland major grant. There are one or two poems that were written a little earlier than this, too. All up, it's a powerful first collection from one of Australia's major emerging poets - a book not to be missed.
Excerpt from the book
MY COMPLIMENT IS NOT A TULIP
– What type of truck?
– A fire truck
The taper of a cup
sitting pretty in a circle –there are shapes everywhere
The shape of sunlight cutting up your arm
The shape of stone
The shape of things to come
an owl’s rug-coloured call
It’s just I cannot cope
with the sway of your dress
this soft surveillance
It reminds me of a small duck
I sip it near the gallery
run my fingers along the
It is good to meet you
as rain begins and umbrellas
open at once across the city
Oh you lose so beautifully she said and threw me down on the
slope. The lawn took my back with a sting and she fell into my
mouth and roamed the sky just then the sun bucketing down
tickling each other with open palms. The tennis was over and her
skirt with the fanned folds hovered with the breeze anyway. The
cotton wrestling away from us like vanilla milkshakes balancing in
our hands and we tasted like we might. And for quite a long time.
Nearly minutes and the bold big sun the rise of pink now patterning
her back and her neck and my back against the blade-grass we
notice the lips keep on and the rain begins all over again Julie
Julie gee this lasts a while and we’re happy about that. Seventeen
birds somewhere in the trees and a line call sour beyond the
oak and the car by the court (two). Tennis. Again. She says and we
fiddle the lawn and all in all we kiss and touch racquets and that’s
Luke Beesley was born in Brisbane in 1975, and grew up in south-east Queensland. He completed post-graduate study in psychology at Griffith University in 1996, and has since travelled widely, living in London, Montreal and Tokyo, returning to the inner west of Brisbane in-between. He is currently completing an M.Phil (Creative Writing) at the University of Queensland, and is the fiction editor of LiNQ. He was recently awarded a four month Asialink Residency at the Sanskriti Kendra Cultural Centre in New Delhi, India, to work on separate collections of poetry and short fiction. Lemon Shark is his first book.