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Surface to Air

From one of Australia’s most daring poets comes his much-anticipated new volume of poetry. Surface to Air, evolving over a period of five years from 2006–2011, is an impressive follow-up to Savige’s extremely successful debut Latecomers.

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While many of the poems in latecomers, concerned the history and landscape of Bribie Island, where Savige grew up, this collection is about leaving the island and as such, it signals a departure from latecomers.

The title, Surface to Air, conveys the central themes of the collection, which include: the archaeological exposure of history, both personal and cultural, to the present; the struggle for literal inspiration, (a title of one of the poems) in contemporary life, with issues ranging from consumerism to personal grievance and loss; the ubiquity of violence, and the relationship between actual violence and the simulacrum of violence and war (connoted by the phrase ‘surface-to-air missile’); among others. It is also an invitation to be mindful of the surface effects of language.

Jaya Savige

Jaya Savige

Jaya Savige is an Australian author, editor and academic based in London. He was born in Sydney and grew up on Bribie Island, Queensland, where he wrote his first volume of poetry, Latecomers (UQP 2005), which won the NSW Premier’s Kenneth Slessor Prize and the Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize, was highly commended for the Dame Mary Gilmore Prize and shortlisted for several other Australian awards. His second collection, Surface to Air (UQP 2011), was shortlisted for The Age Poetry Book of the Year and the West Australian Premier’s Prize. Jaya’s poems have been anthologised in The Penguin Anthology of Australian Poetry, Poetry International, Contemporary Australian Poetry, Thirty Australian Poets and in nine editions of the annual Best Australian Poems. His work has been widely published in magazines and journals including Poetry (Chicago), Kenyon Review, PN Review and Poesia (Italy). His most recent collection is a chapbook, Maze Bright (2014).

Jaya is Lecturer in English and Head of Creative Writing at the New College of the Humanities in Bedford Square, London, and is Poetry Editor for The Australian newspaper. He received a Gates Scholarship to read for his PhD at Christ’s College, University of Cambridge, where he wrote on James Joyce. His poetry criticism has appeared in Poetry, The Australian, Australian Book Review, Australian Poetry Journal, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Courier-Mail among others. He has been a recipient of a Marten Bequest Traveling Scholarship for Poetry and a Brisbane Lord Mayor’s Artist Fellowship. Jaya has given readings in Adelaide, Bali, Berlin, Brisbane, Cambridge, London, Melbourne, Milan, New York, Prague, Turin, Sydney, Verona and elsewhere, and has held Australia Council writing residencies at the B.R. Whiting Library Studio, Rome, and the Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris.