Content by Liam Ferney

Shortlist year: 2017

Shortlist category: Poetry

Published by: Hunter Publishers

In his latest collection, Liam Ferney focuses on the deep contradictions at the heart of modern life. This is fast-paced poetry that is explosive, critical, and engaged.

Ferney uses the argot of politics and the internet to tackle religion, war, love, and late capitalism. Content is a hand grenade tossed into the middle of polite society. He charts and parodies a hypertextual world, engrossed in media while passionately critical of their effects.

About the author

Portrait of Liam Ferney

Liam Ferney

Liam Ferney is the author of Popular Mechanics (2004) and Boom (2013), which was shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Poetry Prize and the Judith Wright Calanthe Award. His work has been published internationally and translated into Korean and Mandarin. He lives in Brisbane.

Judges’ comments

Liam Ferney’s Content puts the Age of Information in the cross hairs.

“Frumpy bloggers” serve up homilies and hot takes, while “the newspapers in this town / only report reliably / on gossip, slander & opinion”. Knowledge has up and fled and citizens – or “users” – are content with mere content. “We have made knowledge redundant,” Ferney writes in the poem “Summer Anthem”, just “in time for cigarettes & g&ts / at the pool”.

Like frogs that fail to leap from the boiling pot, we are anesthetised to our addiction to the vapid content of rolling entertainment that passes for news: “when the networks go down we all look / up from our smart phones,” he writes with wry accusation, “and ask – / what next?”

While many poets are satisfied to “play with soundbites while transnational market forces play with us”, Ferney proves himself to be the rightful heir to the great John Forbes by holding a mirror to machines of power that doubles as an indictment.

This is an exhilarating, frequently hilarious, language-driven poetry that shows us precisely where we’re at. It may not be the news we want to hear, but Ferney’s poems bring the news we deserve and undoubtedly need.