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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, author of Latecomers, Change Machine, and Surface to Air

Jaya Savige

Jaya Savige was born in Sydney, raised on Bribie Island, and lives in London. He is the author of Latecomers (UQP, 2005), which won the New South Wales Premier’s Prize for Poetry and was highly commended for the ASAL Mary Gilmore Award, and Surface to Air (UQP, 2011), which was shortlisted for The Age Poetry Book of the Year and the Western Australian Premier’s Book Award for Poetry. He read for a PhD on James Joyce at the University of Cambridge (Christ’s) as a Gates Scholar, and has held Australia Council residencies at the B.R. Whiting Studio, Rome, and the Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris. He lectures at the New College of the Humanities at Northeastern, and is poetry editor for The Australian. His newest collection, Change Machine, was shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards in 2021, the 2021 Judith Wright Calanthe Award for a Poetry Collection and the Queensland Premier's Award for a Work of State Significance.