Shortlist year: 
2022
Shortlist category: 
Poetry
Published by: 
UWA Publishing

About the book

Fish Work by Caitlin Maling, UWA Publishing

At the Bottom of It, Pain
Callie tries to give the fish a good death,
short and sharp, severing the brain stem.
Pithing – like the sound a cherry makes
when you extract the pip. Some things
are instinct like spitting out
what cracks, hard, against your teeth,
or how a fusilier in the net arches
its whole body like a rictus grin
when the fruit is sour.

'Fish Work' brings the great barrier reef into poetic focus, exploring not just the fish that occupy the reefs but that vast variety of life-forms – including human – that make the reef a uniquely diverse environment. Developed over three years of field-work, during which time the poet lived and worked alongside marine researchers, 'Fish Work' asks us to reconsider what it means to live with other beings, human and extra-than-human.

Blending the language of scientific research with the language of popular culture and her familiar conversational register, 'Fish Work' is unlike any other book of poetry available in Australia.

This collection represents the first dedicated poetic investigation into the Great Barrier Reef in a time a climate change, paying particular attention to the far northern Great Barrier Reef, specifically Lizard Island Research Station where the poet spent several months over several years undergoing fieldwork with the scientific researchers in residence.