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Circadia (Judith Bishop, UQP)

Judith Bishop’s Circadia is a collection of neatly formed, intelligent poems in which you can discover something new with each read. Bishop is in conversation with a chorus of voices and introduces us to a range of figures, from Chuvash poet Gennadiy Aygi to the endangered Baw Baw frog. She moves fluidly from human to non-human beings, often shifting into an unusual perspective or making bare the strangeness in the ordinary, and vice versa. The title Circadia is a clever statement of intent, combining the mythical Arcadia (as a pastoral utopia) with the everyday steadiness of circadian rhythms. Though addressing a wide range of themes, Circadia’s poems form a cohesive world that is open and inquisitive, loving, sincere, and occasionally whimsical, without being naïve. Any sentimentality feels earned and intentional. Though some poems are brief, Circadia is a book best digested slowly to give each piece time to unfurl. This collection, the conclusion to Bishop’s trilogy focused on time, recalls the work of American poet Jorie Graham in how it engages with the big questions of life (such as war, disconnection, and the transience of existence), and leans confidently yet accessibly into a knowledge of culture and language. Bishop’s latest is a book to sit with for a long time and keep coming back to, especially for readers looking for wonder and hope.

Books+Publishing reviewer: Ash Davida Jane is a writer, editor and publisher from New Zealand. Books+Publishing is Australia’s number-one source of pre-publication book reviews.


Category: Reviews