IP Banner

Store     Orders     IP Home     Contact Us

Furniture Is Disappearing

Starkly unaware of herself and struggling to make the passage from child to adult, the narrator in this collection points the finger, repeatedly exposes her heart and wonders why things just never seem to work out.

Join her for flirtations with strangers, intoxicating relationships and explorations to the edge of the void.

Gemma Ann White writes poems that distil everyday moments in time, infusing them with meaning, sometimes adding a touch of the surreal or imaginary.

This is poetry of the imagination where madness grows, memory holds sway and the night is an octopus “awkwardly getting caught. Tentacles fastening onto telegraph poles…”

“Circling the channel between friend and lover
I say goodbye to one, wait in the rain for the other”

“In the morning you said:
‘I have a lion mask for you,’
fetching it out of the cupboard
placing it on the back of my head:
‘Mine is the pig mask, yours is the lion mask.’
As if now some animal pact is made.”

Gemma White
Gemma White

Gemma Ann White lives in Melbourne. She is a painter, poet, managing editor and founder of Only Words Apart Media.

Gemma was involved in various poetry media projects such as RMIT’s PROD (a collaboration of poetry and film) in 2009, in which one of her poems ‘The Mariner’s Lover’ was turned into the song ‘Ancient Love’ by singer/songwriter Gossling. Excerpts from her poem ‘Love Song for London’ were featured in Mash, a collaborative poetry initiative by the 9th Annual Overload Poetry Festival.

This is Gemma’s first collection of poetry.

BuyIP

 

Ebooks.com

Kindle  

ISBN 9781922120700 (PB, 64 pp);
140mm x 216mm
(release date 15 May 2014)

AUD $25 USD $18 NZD $27 GBP £12 EUR €14
ISBN 9781922120717 (ePub) AUD $12 USD $9 NZD $14 GBP £6 EUR €7
Reviews

"These intelligent poems marry the reflective and sensory with a clarity that brings direct experience into sharp focus. A momentary experience of a subjective reality is more important than the search for meaning because, as in these poems, these enacted moments are not about merely marking the passing of time they are about being fully awake to an emotional truth. These poems make honesty an art form for a richer experience of being alive."

– Claire Gaskin, Poet, A Snail in the Ear of Buddha, a bud, and Paperweight

When living with the threat that the tactile experience of reading may be subsumed by the digital era, this book recalls the sensual experience. It feels good to hold, like handling suede or ancient vellum, and the image of the wine-dark tulip against the window looking onto an overgrown garden invites the reader in.

The poems are equally as sensual; looking through the window into the poet’s experience of sex, adventure, longing, relationships that begin, end, and where the “furniture is disappearing” as lives are packed up and removed. White, in sharing her experience with such beautiful poetry, engages the reader in the experience of her life.

The first poem in any collection, like the opening paragraph in a novel, is the most important for capturing the interest and enticing you to read on. ‘Guru’ does this:

People
on the street
seem to like
asking me questions.

Like the people on the street, we’re prepared to follow White’s directions into the rest of the book, and her engaging personality comes through each one. That personality is nice, likeable, open and trusting, with a child-like sense of play, playing with language and images. Which all can make you very angry, upset for her, when she comes up against the inevitable bastards like in ‘Crimson Encounter’. Sex that isn’t what it should be, instead is meaningless and messy, and non-consensual, leaving her debased, devalued. Paradoxically, White’s strongest poems are the ones that leave behind that child-like state and engage with the darker aspects of life.

And there is nothing child-like about her skill with language and imagery. These poems are the result of careful and disciplined honing of her craft, evident in ‘Love Poem for London’, arranged in rhyming couplets but with the rhyme in the assonance, giving it a soft, rounded sound that matches the emotion and the aesthetic of the memory. And the excellent pantoum of ‘Ardent Lovemaking’ where she also plays with a juxtaposition of the phrases that works to avoid the monotony of repetition while strengthening the connection between the quatrains. The erratic rather than regular rhythm adds to the topical chaos.

Some attempts haven’t worked quite so well. ‘Father’s Breath’ is another pantoum but it feels contrived and awkward. And ‘Sonnet for my Lover’ is cloying in its romanticism, though breaking away from the metrical requirements does effectively move it into contemporary modernism. Others such as ‘Friendship’ are just snapshots of her life, encounters, relationships, friendships. There’s a lot of sex, drinking, and drifting, and it does start to feel a bit voyeuristic in the reading.

I don’t know what this friendship
Is based on, maybe just
The drinking of Smirnoff
Into the early hours
And the promise
Of your skin.

But there are few enough collections where the poet hits the mark with every offering and here there are enough very good poems to make it worthwhile reading. One of my favourites is ‘Where I grew up’ that begins:

The trees had their wings clipped,
lumbering amputees with leaves.

Her poem, ‘Mum’ about a mother’s degeneration into senility is aesthetically simple, pared back, but fear-filled and poignant:

Your thoughts like
scrambled egg:

I wonder where.
I wonder where the pieces
went?

The closing of a collection, for it be a satisfying experience holistically, is as important as the opening and White achieves this with ‘Furniture is disappearing’. With the furniture goes her optimism and this collection has been a rite of passage into adulthood. Despite the disappointment expressed in the last poem, readers can confidently, and optimistically, expect more poetry from White in the future that will reflect an increasing depth, maturity, and mastery of the craft.

– Roxanne Bodsworth, Goodreads 

 

Links

Gemma's poetry website: The Art of Gemma White

Gemma's landing page for Furniture is Disappearing

Gemma is founder of ("publishers of original poetic thought")

Gemma's YouTube playlist: View the films of Gemma's poem ‘The Mariner’s Lover’ turned into the song ‘Ancient Love’ by singer / songwriter Gossling in RMIT's Prod, and excerpts from her poem 'Love Song for London' featured in Mash, a collaborative poetry initiative by the 9th Annual Overload Poetry Festival.

 

Sample

Skin

You say you don’t like me
But something keeps you
Hanging around here
Drinking my Smirnoff
You say it tastes better with
Someone else there
I think it’s okay, because
As the bottle empties
I get closer to touching your skin
Never a kiss, just cheek
A hand around
The middle of your delicious stomach
I don’t know what this friendship
Is based on, maybe just
The drinking of Smirnoff
Into the early hours
And the promise
Of your skin.

Ardent Lovemaking

The first time we did it,
We laughed like lunatics
Felt the whole world at its knees
Everything stopping momentarily.

We laughed like lunatics
Finally I’d found someone unafraid to laugh
Everything stopping momentarily
The world divides in unison.

Unafraid to laugh, finally I’d found someone
We woke the housemates with our uproar
The world divides in unison
Everything shifts, out of balance.

We, with our uproar, woke the housemates,
Turning over, stuffing pillows over heads
Out of balance, everything shifts
Now you’re in someone else’s arms.

Turning over, stuffing pillows over heads
It was never again as good as the first time
Now you are in someone else’s arms
And you ring me up, you ring me up.

It was never again as good as the first time
You say: you don’t do it enough with her
And you ring me up, you ring me up
Saying: she doesn’t do oral sex.

You say: you don’t do it enough with her
Not with the frequency we used to do it.
Saying: she doesn’t do oral sex
Oh, but I love her, how I love her.

Not with the frequency we used to do it
The first time we did it,
Oh, but I love her, how I love her
Felt the whole world at its knees.

Where I grew up

The trees had their wings clipped,
lumbering amputees with leaves.

The grasses were tamed
Into regimented geometrics,
Mowed on a Sunday, watered till green.

Water came from a plastic tube,
Creating arcs skipped through on a hot day,
And we all thought it infinite.

Mum

I.

Your thoughts like
scrambled egg;

I wonder where.
I wonder where the pieces
went?

Which are gone for good?

II.

One day, I remember
I asked you
to pass the margarine.
You asked; which
particular trapeze
I was referring to.

On these days
I get scared
(even-in-my-young-adult-skin).

I get scared
(that the nightmare)
could come after me too.

Read more on Google Books