The Well Mouth
Fremantle Press, 2005
2006 Adelaide Festival Awards for Poetry Award – Shortlisted
2005 Sydney Morning Herald, a Poetry Book of the Year
2005 Adelaide Review, a Poetry Book of the Year
2005 The Age Poetry Book of the Year – honourable mention
At the bottom of an abandoned well, a woman murdered and dumped there by corrupt police dreams the voices of people who have died but do not yet know it. Deep underground, she is silent witness and narrator of their earth poems – as she drifts in artesian streams towards the coast. One by one the newly dead replace each other in her imagination – whistleblower, brothel madam, long distance driver, woman lost in the bush, old soldier – some registering in sharp focus, others in brief faltering grabs, jostling and blurring in the pressure to be heard. The Well Mouth is a work of powerful immersion in empathy and unexpectedness.
This expansive new collection recalls Philip Salom’s acclaimed Sky Poems and confirms his reputation as one of Australia’s leading poets of imagination and narrative invention. As a book, The Well Mouth is both lyrical and sardonic, humorous and bare. Containing many individually brilliant poems, it accumulates into a work of real beauty and force.
Praise for The Well Mouth
The Well Mouth is a strange, oracular testament – our very own Australian book of the dead, shining and savage.
The text achieves a music that is the dissolution of desire (often against one’s will): the messy ‘end-music’ of life. It’s quite extraordinary. This is uncanny and brilliant writing, and for a book so unremittingly about death I was surprised to find myself so often amused by the sardonic imagery, of the poems.
Peter Pierce, Sydney Morning Herald
Australian Book Review
Geoff Page, The Australian
Anthony Miller, The West Australian