About the book
In the hallucinatory first sequence of 'Empirical', Lisa Gorton seeks to understand how the feeling for place originates, and how memory and landscape fold in and out of each other. The collection then opens up into poems that track through chains of influence and a phantasmagoric procession of images, the trade between empire, commodities and dreams of other places. Through this method, landscapes are mirrored and refracted in the contemporary baroque style for which Gorton is celebrated.
About the author
Lisa Gorton has a PhD on the poetry of John Donne from the University of Oxford. She is a poet and novelist, essayist and reviewer. Her first poetry collection 'Press Release' won the Victorian Premier's Award for Poetry; her second, 'Hotel Hyperion' was awarded the Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal. Her novel 'The Life of Houses' was the joint winner of the 2016 Prime Minister's Award for fiction. She is the author of 'Cloudland', a novel for children.
Lisa Gorton's 'Empirical' is a collection of poems that opens up a distinctively imagined world of urban Melbourne landscape and life. In long, carefully-paced lines Gorton shows us someone thinking about the entirely unremarkable world around her: factories, train lines, building rubble, tyre tracks, milkweed. Her view is empirical, privileging the evidence of the senses, rather than some poetic idea of landscape or fine feeling. These poems are like clear panes of glass on someone seeing and thinking, partly because of the pinpoint accuracy of individual words, partly because of the unencumbered syntax. In another sense of 'empirical,' the collection also includes documentary poems about the colonial history of Melbourne's modern civic space, full of careful quotation, catalogues of people and language from the past, as well as geographical references. These are poems that seem free of any predictable topic or theme, open to the immediacy of a perceptive mind.