About the author
Lucy Van writes poetry and literary criticism. She has been a writer in residence at Overland (2019–2020), and a Melbourne Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne (2018–2019), where she is currently an honorary fellow in the English and Theatre Studies program. Her poetry has appeared in publications including Australian Poetry Journal, The Suburban Review, Rabbit, Axon, and Best of Australian Poems 2021. Her essays have appeared in Katipunan, Liminal Book Review, History of Photography, Journal of Australian Studies, Meanjin, Southerly, Cordite Poetry Review and others. Her first poetry collection is The Open.
About the book
“The ocean passes beneath these poems and one inevitably gets wet. It’s ‘a liquidation of territory’, whether in Vietnam or in Australia, or between what’s touched and what’s yet to be touched. Site of frission. Contention. Then insight. These prose poems start as a moment flowing in interior monologue into multiple spaces and times. Then sneakily, and bravely too, they open estranging doors, so poetry starts reading like short story becoming extemporaneous discourse, erudite and interrogative, hopscotching from Foucault to Kristeve to Malouf to Plath. Van’s quicksilver to-ing and fro-ing creates an insight-coaxing discombobulation.” – Merlinda Bobis, ‘Introduction’ to The Open
The Open is a prose poetry collection that explores the pressures of colonisation and capitalism, and the alienation and dislocation they engender.
Broken into four sections, Lucy Van’s poems speak independently and harmoniously. The motif of doors recurs throughout this collection, but as with all of Van’s imagery, the metaphor is always rich and multi-layered: the hinge of an apostrophe and its implications of possession and ownership, the swing of personal and political history, which interrupt each other and reveal the fallible nature of memory, the contradictions of privacy implied by the permeable boundary of a screen door. Van starts with the familiar, then accelerates and expands on its implications, always taking her reader to a fresh space in which to turn these ideas over in the mind again and again and find new meaning in them.
The back and forth of Van’s collection demonstrates gradually over time the burden of choice. Despite the speed of living that the ongoing colonial project demands, one is still left with the responsibility of making decisions about how to be and what meaning to make in the world. The Open invites an understanding that the privacy and vulnerability necessary in order to make these decisions is complex and fraught.
“Van’s absolute strength is infusing small images with the emotions of decolonisation.” – Clare Millar, Readings online
“…as the title suggests – open, in both its honesty and its capacity to encourage and sustain readings from many angles of approach.” – Riley Faulds, Westerly
“Each book deserves a broad readership. Each beats back the lethargic thinking that has invaded society under the cover of the pandemic.” – Anders Villani, Australian Book Review
Read Merlinda Bobis’s introduction to The Open via Cordite Poetry Review
Read ‘5 Questions with Lucy Van’ via Liminal Mag
Listen to ‘Tell Me Like You Mean It: Lucy Van’ via the Emerging Writers’ Festival