In her new collection, Katherine Gallagher draws on a rich inheritance from her different worlds: Australia, Britain - particularly London - and France. Her subject matter ranges widely: travel, exile, returning, change, nature, war, family, illness, love, loss, death and childhood experiences, always rooted in a passionate sense of discovery and attention to place. She juxtaposes a mix of colloquial and more formal verse-styles to evoke immediacy and feeling with impressive clarity and freshness of voice. Lyrical and politically-tuned, her poems range between moments of deep feeling and satire, laced with an often wry humour veering towards the surreal. Many of the poems take the traveller as theme - 'traveller' in the widest sense, linking Gallagher's personal experience to the universal and showing the juxtapositions and layers to be discovered behind the seemingly familiar as well as the unknown. She has a great fascination with the natural world, its vibrancy and colour - expressed in moments of wonder and unease, as in her poems on environmental themes and in the eclectic sequence, "After Kandinsky" with which the collection concludes.
Her reflections on people draw in the multifariousness of everyday experience with wit, irony and elegance. "Circus-Apprentice" is an engaging, distinctive collection notable for its variety and seriousness, its adventurousness with word and image, and its sometimes understated, but sharply telling, content. Gallagher's poems combine candour and tenderness, humour and dark moments to tremendous effect.
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