Edge Music

Edge Music explores what it means to talk about, and to write on, the edges of Australian landscapes – be they geographical or historical.

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Edge Music explores what it means to talk about, and to write on, the edges of Australian landscapes – be they geographical or historical.

Responding to a complex, globally engaged nation, this innovative book openly displays the author’s eagerness to write in an extremely eclectic range of styles and forms.

It reveres the voices of the past, and grants them new life in the blinding sun of the present.


To be a Cat Curled

Loss is days
the traction of years deflating
the vertical

so that a man, once a pearl in a dark mouth,
becomes sound’s flat plane.

The beating heart is corrosion,
scattering leaves,
butterflies, leaves.

Each mumbling moment.
Each frozen, irretrievable One.

Headlines could be the only things that matter;
the rest is just flesh, flow,
This sense that everything’s
the same and what I see – in the way
a tree emerges or an emu speeds – are the tips
of the freezing.
How to keep pace with the sun?

Never to falter. To be a cat curled
in the corner of a doorway, smiling dreamily.
Can the dream of shade
moving further out across the grass
ever be reconciled
with this tightening stiff of the gut?

On that note, how to follow a poet’s letters
to the memories of childhood
while fixated

upon the streaked darkness, through which
I perpetually, always
without seeing, fall?

Baghdad Moon

Standing on the roof of my home
in the Pacific Oceans of Mexico,
I heard the puncture
of indigo space.
I looked into the dusk sky
and saw the first needle
of light
from time anterior.

In front of my house
atop Isla María
Isobelita, a thin lip
of the moon split
the mauve canopy.
Stars were appearing
and drawing her out
from deeper space.

One night I left my dreams
for the stars
jostling like dusty static
in the sky’s ink;
one fell:

a lambent lead
shot plummeting

to the Earth,
a white scratch of light
into the mountain of my island.

On a still night
when the last gulls were
in my subconscious,
I looked up
and saw the stars
as the thousand pores
of my thinning hair.

Her voice arrived on the swell
from San Blas:
it was coming.
And satellites burned; I woke up.

I saw the stars in the sky
start to drop
as if
they were spilling
out of space;

the black sky grew hazy
with the luminous
of a galaxy
crumbling to Earth.

One night I heard
tremendous explosions!
The rumbles shook the last stars
loose from empty space.
On my island,
I couldn’t escape
the noise, the piercing
jaranero whine
of it.

Last night she told me they were trapped
on an island
on the edge of the sea.
I sat down amongst the shrubs
in my garden; my sigh
burst from the chest
of a star.
could wait, I said. Yes, I
could wait.
While phosphorescence fell
down her cheeks.

jaranero: ‘harr-uh-nair-o’

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link to Ecological Humanities site

Stuart Cooke

Stuart was born in 1980 and grew up in Sydney and Hobart. He has travelled extensively, and lived in Chile, Mexico and England. In 2011 he completed a PhD in Indigenous Australian and Chilean poetics at Macquarie University. Stuart's poems and translations have been published widely in Australia, and in the USA and UK. His chapbook, Corrosions, was published by Vagabond Press in 2010 and his translation of Juan Garrido Salgado's Eleven Poems, September 1973 was published by Picaro Press in 2007. Edge Music was Highly Commended in the IP Picks First Book category.

ISBN : 9781921869433
Weight N/A
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Ebook, PB


ePub, PB, pdf

Customer Reviews

1-5 of 4 reviews

  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    Stuart Cooke’s first full collection of poetry, Edge Music, is divided into three sections: the first, ”Corrosions”, often finds Cooke overseas; the second, ”Edge”, often finds him with women; and ”Coast”, the last section, is quintessentially Australian in subject matter. Each section is about the same length and thus the collection is nicely balanced.

    Cooke, who was born in 1980, last year completed a PhD in indigenous Australian and Chilean poetics. He is interested in an eco-poetics which allows energy to flow through language in the same way that it flows constantly between different forms and materials in an ecosystem. Correspondingly, he is most often a poet of exteriors, and the settings for his poems are more often than not various Australian areas.

    Each poem is substantial. Some are shorter, but they are not slight. Cooke works solely in free verse, but achieves a wonderful variation in tone throughout the book. He also never misses a trick with titles.

    Technically, Cooke is adept and achieves more variation through experimentation with enjambment. Take his habit of starting a word at the end of a line and finishing it at the start of the next. This may seem random and arbitrary, but it is certainly different.
    There are differences in the level of clarity in the poems in Edge Music. Australian poet Robert Gray, in his imprimatur on the back cover, notes that Edge Music ”negotiates between opacity and lucidity”. It does this by way of not having extremes of both.
    Everything used as material in Edge Music is handled by a healthy intellect. In ”Berlin World”, after looking at a painting by Felix Schramm, Cooke notes, ”There is a global vacancy/- although global really/isn’t the right/term: it’s an individual/mourning/of a life lost or possibly never even/begun”.

    The poetic analysis, evaluation and synthesis in this poem and others show a good capacity for higher-order thinking.
    Cooke also chooses his subject matter well. As a traveller, he takes the reader to interesting places they have most likely never been before. Then Cooke often treats his subject matter very intelligently. A winning combination. With Edge Music, Cooke has invited the reader to engage with a book that is assured, unrushed and without a hint of pretension.

    – Michael Byrne, The Canberra Times

    July 14, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    Stuart Cooke cares for poetry like it’s a kind of land. His intrepid poems step and leap into a range of affective, physical and cultural territories – and just when it seems that the terrain is known: we come upon three sit-up poems after Philip Hodgins. The tones are urgent, good-humoured, and humble; the lines of a thoughtful and involved poet. Edge Music is spatially epic and technically diverse. In other words, a sexy country. Take it to bed.
    – Michael Farrell

    July 14, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    ‘A new world is a new mind’, William Carlos Williams says. Aerating the mind is this book’s project. The work looks exciting on the page, and it fulfils our expectations. It manages to reinstate lyrical beauty and negotiates between opacity and lucidity. His poems achieve the marvellous.
    – Robert Gray

    July 14, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    The luxuriance of poetic environments in Edge Music announces a poet not just of great range but of deep attachments too. Many of Cooke’s poems work by opening up direct relationships between language-structures and the unique experience of Australian habitats and land-shapes. That said, he never loses the capacity to dream and meditate and, most powerfully, to tell things as they are. When most local he can, nonetheless, draw his poetry from a wide awareness of modern poetry, not least from beyond the English language tradition. Far-ranging, he can return his poems to the immediate context of Australian voice and manner. Edge Music reveals a strong new poetic presence, a presence already very assured and one that is already offering a true moment of enrichment to Australian poetry.
    – Martin Harrison

    July 14, 2023

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