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I told you this was a thirst so great it could carve rivers. This fierce debut from award-winning writer Evelyn Araluen confronts the tropes and iconography of an unreconciled nation with biting satire and lyrical fury. Dropbear interrogates the complexities of colonial and personal history with an alternately playful, tender and mournful intertextual voice, deftly navigati I told you this was a thirst so great it could carve rivers. This fierce debut from award-winning writer Evelyn Araluen confronts the tropes and iconography of an unreconciled nation with biting satire and lyrical fury. Dropbear interrogates the complexities of colonial and personal history with an alternately playful, tender and mournful intertextual voice, deftly navigating the responsibilities that gather from sovereign country, the spectres of memory and the debris of settler-coloniality. This innovative mix of poetry and essay offers an eloquent witness to the entangled present, an uncompromising provocation of history, and an embattled but redemptive hope for a decolonial future.


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I told you this was a thirst so great it could carve rivers. This fierce debut from award-winning writer Evelyn Araluen confronts the tropes and iconography of an unreconciled nation with biting satire and lyrical fury. Dropbear interrogates the complexities of colonial and personal history with an alternately playful, tender and mournful intertextual voice, deftly navigati I told you this was a thirst so great it could carve rivers. This fierce debut from award-winning writer Evelyn Araluen confronts the tropes and iconography of an unreconciled nation with biting satire and lyrical fury. Dropbear interrogates the complexities of colonial and personal history with an alternately playful, tender and mournful intertextual voice, deftly navigating the responsibilities that gather from sovereign country, the spectres of memory and the debris of settler-coloniality. This innovative mix of poetry and essay offers an eloquent witness to the entangled present, an uncompromising provocation of history, and an embattled but redemptive hope for a decolonial future.

30 review for Dropbear

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ceyrone

    Wow wow wow! I don’t often read a collection of poetry. What a debut collection of poems this is. Dropbear is engaging, it gets you thinking and questioning, it stops you in your track and totally disrupts your reading of the text in the most beautiful way, that opens your eyes. It is good with just honesty and ease and at times anger. Dropbear is full of references that familiar to people to have lived in Australia, it pays homage and critiques popular culture. A deeper connection to the land a Wow wow wow! I don’t often read a collection of poetry. What a debut collection of poems this is. Dropbear is engaging, it gets you thinking and questioning, it stops you in your track and totally disrupts your reading of the text in the most beautiful way, that opens your eyes. It is good with just honesty and ease and at times anger. Dropbear is full of references that familiar to people to have lived in Australia, it pays homage and critiques popular culture. A deeper connection to the land and Araluen’s verses comes from her experiences as a Bundjalung descendant. Highly recommend this collection of poems but an amazing voice to the genre. ‘AGAIN WE ARE UNHEARD AS WE SPEAK KNOWINGS WE HAVE CARRIED TO CARE FOR THIS PLACE THROUGH RECKONING// AGAIN AGAIN WE ARE TOLD TO BE GRATEFUL FOR THIS GIFT AS IF THE MACHINE HAS FIREPROOFED ANYTHING BUT ITSELF// I WROTE THIS POEM AT A DESK COVERED IN ASK’

  2. 4 out of 5

    Shastra Deo

    This book was / is / will be everything. I'm changed right down to the atom for having read it. This book was / is / will be everything. I'm changed right down to the atom for having read it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)

    “J asks — what is a world, and what does it mean to end it? I want to know what it means to lose the world you’re still standing in.” // There’s so much in DROPBEAR that stops you in your tracks, a disruption to your reading that necessitates a reckoning with it as text and on a broader level, as a way of thinking. There’s an immediacy to the writing, a conversation with the “now” (bushfires, the pandemic, Black Lives Matter, and more) as much as there is a critical eye cast on history and it’s un “J asks — what is a world, and what does it mean to end it? I want to know what it means to lose the world you’re still standing in.” // There’s so much in DROPBEAR that stops you in your tracks, a disruption to your reading that necessitates a reckoning with it as text and on a broader level, as a way of thinking. There’s an immediacy to the writing, a conversation with the “now” (bushfires, the pandemic, Black Lives Matter, and more) as much as there is a critical eye cast on history and it’s unrelenting hold. This analysis extends to the literature and ballads and iconography that have been wielded in forming a national identity, forced on the natural landscape much as it has on the people that call it home. . // . It’s a collection of breathtaking poetry and writing that in itself is an engagement with the literary space that it exists in. This layered liminality is such an engaging space—if you enjoy the writing of Alison Whittaker and they way she incorporates law and legal documents in her poetry and art commentary, I think you’ll love this too. . // . The quote I’ve shared above is one that has particularly stayed with me—the choice of punctuation in that last sentence, carrying a statement perhaps more heavily than it intends any questioning. This is a book you’ll want to tab and underline and discuss with other readers—out from @uqpbooks on 2 March, many thanks for the advance read!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    While reading this collection of poetry/prose/memoir all I could think of was ‘instant classic’, ‘this needs to be taught’...astonishing is the only word that I can aptly use to describe the impact of reading Drop Bear. A potent evisceration of Australian kitsch culture through a decolonial lens, Araluen’s voice is clear, biting and powerful that left me breathless and questioning the the very foundations of the Australian mythology and the lasting and damaging impact is has and is still causing While reading this collection of poetry/prose/memoir all I could think of was ‘instant classic’, ‘this needs to be taught’...astonishing is the only word that I can aptly use to describe the impact of reading Drop Bear. A potent evisceration of Australian kitsch culture through a decolonial lens, Araluen’s voice is clear, biting and powerful that left me breathless and questioning the the very foundations of the Australian mythology and the lasting and damaging impact is has and is still causing as it appropriates and silences the culture, history and language of the First Nations peoples. A must read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Underground Writers

    This review was first published on the Underground Writers website: http://underground-writers.org/review... ‘The trope once had long hair and spoke of liberation, but now votes for local conservatives and owns a boat.’ (The Trope Speaks) Dropbear is a remarkable debut by Evelyn Araluen that brings together the past and the present through strong lyrical verse. Araluen writes satirically with ease, while also bringing in a sense of honesty and purpose in her more plaintive poems. This is an outsta This review was first published on the Underground Writers website: http://underground-writers.org/review... ‘The trope once had long hair and spoke of liberation, but now votes for local conservatives and owns a boat.’ (The Trope Speaks) Dropbear is a remarkable debut by Evelyn Araluen that brings together the past and the present through strong lyrical verse. Araluen writes satirically with ease, while also bringing in a sense of honesty and purpose in her more plaintive poems. This is an outstanding collection of poetry that confronts commercialised culture and will leave readers in awe. The collection is named after the fictional deadly koala-like bear. There is a common understanding among Australians that if a tourist asks about drop bears, there’s always a wild story to spin. Dropbear is full of references, homages, and critiques of popular culture and Aussie kitsch that are familiar to people who have lived in Australia. A deeper layer of Araluen’s verse comes from her experiences as a Bundjalung descendant. Through her voice, the reader is drawn to recognise the harsh settler-colonial history underlying these playful aspects of Australian culture and the continuing lack of recognition for the Indigenous cultures that predate colonisation. ‘// the prayer for peace says second to send grief to the soil // but first to take it back // says there are some things too hallowed for forgetting // too much history to forgive’ (FOR POWER FOR PRAYER FOR PROMISE FOR PEACE) Araluen takes loose inspiration from iconographic authors of Australian literature, including Banjo Paterson and May Gibbs, and twists the form, characters, or places to create a new meaning and message. Taking apart these works and reimagining how they fit into a more inclusive national literature is a welcome challenge to mainstream culture. Araluen’s new creation of literature speaks back to the ingrained ‘Aussie classics’ and brings a fresh new voice to the writing scene. The variated works within the collection make for an interesting read. There are poems that look more standardised, some that look more experimental and modern, and even detailed short essays. Divided into three parts: GATHER, SPECTRE, and DEBRIS, each turn of the page brings something new and inventive. Readers will be hooked onto every word Araluen writes. One of the stand-out poems in the collection is ‘The Inevitable Pandemic Poem’. Set in April 2020, Araluen speaks from a retrospective first-hand point-of-view about sourdough starters, dog walking, closed playgrounds, and masks. Living and writing during a Pandemic is something that no one could have envisioned a few years ago but now everyone understands what it is like to take a walk amongst empty streets. The poem is written delicately and ties together what felt like a very long month in a few short lines. Araluen has shared with Australia a brilliant debut collection of poetry. Spectacularly written and carefully curated—I am sure that Dropbear will be warmly received and enjoyed by many readers.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Viola

    https://www.theguardian.com/books/202... Dropbear by Evelyn Araluen review – a stunning scalpel wielded through Australian myths Araluen’s first collection repurposes Biblical themes, Australiana kitsch and settler-colonial tropes to astonishing effect - Declan Fry Fri 26 Mar 2021 Some 200 years after invasion, in 1991, a vision of Australia was offered by poetry: Robert Gray and Geoffrey Lehmann’s Australian Poetry in the Twentieth Century. The anthology was typified not only by the complete absen https://www.theguardian.com/books/202... Dropbear by Evelyn Araluen review – a stunning scalpel wielded through Australian myths Araluen’s first collection repurposes Biblical themes, Australiana kitsch and settler-colonial tropes to astonishing effect - Declan Fry Fri 26 Mar 2021 Some 200 years after invasion, in 1991, a vision of Australia was offered by poetry: Robert Gray and Geoffrey Lehmann’s Australian Poetry in the Twentieth Century. The anthology was typified not only by the complete absence of Black poets, but the glowing approval of Les Murray on the cover and dutiful inclusion of Barry Humphries’ smiling zinc cream kitsch in Edna’s Hymn, whose balancing act of “mockery and affectionate nostalgia” (“All things bright and beautiful – Pavlovas that we bake,/All things wise and wonderful – Australia takes the cake”) apparently meant no room could be found for Oodgeroo Noonuccal or Lionel Fogarty. In Dropbear, her debut collection of poetry, Evelyn Araluen wields a scalpel through twinkly visions and phantasma that treat the Australian landscape as empty necropolis: the Peters ice-cream white suburbs and grey-lapel metropolises; the interior as vacant object of “sunburnt” affection; women quietly tending logpiles at the homestead while men trek across the frontier and sheep and rabbits destroy the topsoil. To these, Araluen says: “Straya is a man’s country/ and you’re here to die lovely against the rock/ to fold linenly into horizon/ and sweat beautiful blonde on the beach”. She incorporates lyric meditations, memoir and pastiche with equal facility. In this she has been compared to Alison Whittaker; I would suggest, however, that both authors are part of a broader First Nations practice. From Leanne Betasamosake Simpson in Canada and Esther G Belin and Michael Wasson in Turtle Island to Walis Norgan and Adaw Palaf in Taiwan, it is not uncommon to see various modes and forms incorporated into the poetics of First Nations. In poems like PYRO, Breath, and Bastards from the Bar, bristling with hard-bitten tenderness (“For what/they did to the women, and what they never did for us, it’s/worth growing older”), Araluen writes something akin to prose poetry. She is attuned to that form’s particular mode of consciousness wending its way through memories: of bushfire, familial love, even “A SNEAK PEEK PRE-COLLECTION OF ORGANIC COTTON WOMENSWEAR IN WHICH THE THIN WHITE MODEL LEANS DOUR AGAINST A FIRETRUCK IN THE THRICE-BURNT CHAR OF A HOMELAND”. Her work asks what it is we wish to keep, in this “relic-making” of the “half-finished” “Anthropocene display”. What is the point in chiselling the clay of language, if all that eventuates is another object to be placed amid the dead and dying “in a museum of extinct things”? Araluen’s clever repurposing of Biblical themes, Australiana kitsch, and settler-colonial tropes (see the glorious frontier pastiche of The Last Endeavour) speaks back to a long history of Australian myth-making, from Patrick White’s Voss and Harold Lasseter to John Oxley and Madeleine Watts’ recently published debut. In one very fine piece, THE INLAND SEA, Araluen remixes Peter Carey’s Oscar and Lucinda with shades of Corinthians (“how many churches carried up the creek, how much glass for that dark little light”), building toward a stunning image of apocalyptic decay: What did your ruin want with us anyway? Sydney is soft and humid and dying, your ghosts lingering and unsettling ash as they trace too close to the fire’s edge. Your god was dead before the nails, and the cross was bored of waiting for a word, and what for? One word suffices to describe my impression as I read this: oof. It is a stark evocation of existential emptiness, the mythos of a hollow, dead heart interior sounded in those cascading “o”s and slack, single-syllable repetitions. Araluen’s vanished god, accompanied by the hypnotic drumbeat of her scansion (“Your god was dead before the nails, and the cross was bored of waiting for a word”), feels like a corollary to another of the collection’s recurring figures: the Leviathan presence of Tiddalik, Gongarra, Gurungatch, harbingers of “thirst and rage and dreaming”. They did not come to play. They did not come “to hear you poem”: you do wrong you get wrong you get gobbled up No settler has yet learned how to draw out this Baiami, this force, with a hook – or whether Baiami has any interest in making a covenant with them. Leviathan does not wait to hear the poet’s pastoral; they get their eating done, and move Those poems featuring ‘J’ and family are affectionate, full of care toward the remembered, the proximate; all that is held close. The language at times is astonishing: kangaroos “soft blue silking through scratches of tall grass”, compassing the miles from home: I go the tree-lined road and drive slow for the dusking roos bounding into the ironbarks. Every few seconds is a flicker of scribbly gum, white and stark and inscripted in the distance. This poetry of naming, of “topographic intonation”, is comparable to the beauty Araluen sees in her mother in the same piece, To the Parents: “She named us each so tender, with such vision of the home she will never stop making for us.” I hope that this creation – this tenderness, this ceaseless making – continues for years to come. Dropbear by Evelyn Araluen is out now through UQP (University of Queensland Press)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Declan Fry

    Some 200 years after invasion, in 1991, a vision of Australia was offered by poetry: Robert Gray and Geoffrey Lehmann’s Australian Poetry in the Twentieth Century. The anthology was typified not only by the complete absence of Black poets, but the glowing approval of Les Murray on the cover and dutiful inclusion of Barry Humphries’ smiling zinc cream kitsch in Edna’s Hymn, whose balancing act of “mockery and affectionate nostalgia” (“All things bright and beautiful – Pavlovas that we bake,/All th Some 200 years after invasion, in 1991, a vision of Australia was offered by poetry: Robert Gray and Geoffrey Lehmann’s Australian Poetry in the Twentieth Century. The anthology was typified not only by the complete absence of Black poets, but the glowing approval of Les Murray on the cover and dutiful inclusion of Barry Humphries’ smiling zinc cream kitsch in Edna’s Hymn, whose balancing act of “mockery and affectionate nostalgia” (“All things bright and beautiful – Pavlovas that we bake,/All things wise and wonderful – Australia takes the cake”) apparently meant no room could be found for Oodgeroo Noonuccal or Lionel Fogarty. In Dropbear, her debut collection of poetry, Evelyn Araluen wields a scalpel through twinkly visions and phantasma that treat the Australian landscape as empty necropolis: the Peters ice-cream white suburbs and grey-lapel metropolises; the interior as vacant object of “sunburnt” affection; women quietly tending logpiles at the homestead while men trek across the frontier and sheep and rabbits destroy the topsoil. Continue reading: https://www.theguardian.com/books/202...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Blair

    An extremely impressive debut poetry collection by this young indigenous writer. Araluen is co-editor of literary journal Overland and has an academic background which comes through in the poems, particularly something like 'Appendix Australis' which plays with the tropes of academia. The collection is highly intertextual as Araluen engages with the likes of 'Snugglepot and Cuddlepie' and Australian kitsch as well as other poems and prose. It's highly entertaining while also being politically en An extremely impressive debut poetry collection by this young indigenous writer. Araluen is co-editor of literary journal Overland and has an academic background which comes through in the poems, particularly something like 'Appendix Australis' which plays with the tropes of academia. The collection is highly intertextual as Araluen engages with the likes of 'Snugglepot and Cuddlepie' and Australian kitsch as well as other poems and prose. It's highly entertaining while also being politically engaged.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    ' I will meet you at edges of a body shaped like loss and trace the outline of your absence with smoke' From 'Guarded by Birds' This collection of poetry sizzles and crackles with its own fire and deconstructs Australian cultural images formed by colonisation. It is brutal and awakening at the same time. It blows up the colonial perspective of Australia being a hostile land, rather than the reality of it being well managed and habitable for 2000 years by the indigenous people of the multiple nations ' I will meet you at edges of a body shaped like loss and trace the outline of your absence with smoke' From 'Guarded by Birds' This collection of poetry sizzles and crackles with its own fire and deconstructs Australian cultural images formed by colonisation. It is brutal and awakening at the same time. It blows up the colonial perspective of Australia being a hostile land, rather than the reality of it being well managed and habitable for 2000 years by the indigenous people of the multiple nations that constructed this land. Watch out when you go under that tree (not a ghost gum), 'cos the drop bear might get ya ... not!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Veronica

    Evelyn’s poetry is tender, fierce, fluid, and Dropbear is full of lines that shift and comfort and unsettle. This is a stunning collection.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Some very powerful lines.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lana Barnsley

    i think i'm too white and stupid to give this an objective rating i think i'm too white and stupid to give this an objective rating

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    Gutsy lyrical BOLD collection highly aware of form addressing national myths and decolonisation. Araluen is a force I love her writing.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Phillip Dupesovski

  15. 4 out of 5

    Emily (em_isreading)

  16. 4 out of 5

    dezthereader

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sarah C

  18. 4 out of 5

    Alex Creece

  19. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

  20. 4 out of 5

    Julia

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nicola Vaughan

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lia Perkins

  23. 4 out of 5

    Adalya

  24. 5 out of 5

    (✿◠‿◠)

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rhiannon

  26. 5 out of 5

    selina

  27. 5 out of 5

    Gerard Starling

  28. 5 out of 5

    Cade Turner-Mann

  29. 4 out of 5

    Aloe

  30. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin

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