Welcome to the series where I will be sharing a selection of book reviews I have posted in the last few years. I would like to take the opportunity to showcase books that I have enjoyed and their authors and if you have not read the books, I hope it will encourage you to check them out.
I will be sharing the reviews out of sequence between 2017 – 2020 as some authors have more than one book in the folder…
In May 2019 I reviewed the poetry collection by Frank Prem, Devil in the Wind: Voices from the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires.
About Devil in the Wind
Devil In The Wind is an account of catastrophic fire and its immediate aftermath.
In this 21st century, the whole world seems to be on fire. America burns. Europe burns. Greece is reeling after its own tragedy of fire.
And Australia burns, as it has always done, but now so much more fiercely.
In February 2009, wildfires burnt through entire communities, taking 173 lives and injuring hundreds, while destroying thousands of houses and other buildings. Up to 400 fires destroyed 450,000 hectares of forest, native fauna and habitat, livestock and farmland.
In the aftermath of the fires, the voices of people who had lived through the experience — victims, rescuers, and observers — were spoken and were heard.
Devil In The Wind is Frank Prem’s poetic anthology of the personal, and very human, accounts of those who themselves experienced and survived Black Saturday. Poetry writing that interacts directly with readers emotions.
My review for Devil in the Wind – May 2019
Having enjoyed Small Town Kid and Frank Prem’s unique way of using verse to convey a story, I was eagerly anticipating this new collection.
The title is apt, as it is not just the frightening power of fire that strikes terror into the hearts of those in its path, but the knowledge that the direction of the flames and your fate is dependent on the fickle winds.
Frank Prem captures the growing concern of the communities in the area as they listen to the radio for the latest reports. So many factors to consider, including should they go or should they stay. Some leave it too late, caught in flight on the roads, families packed into a car trying to outrun the flames leaving everything they own to the mercy of the fire. Whole towns are engulfed in what seems to be minutes, and you can sense the growing terror as the author shares stories of families and individuals waiting desperately for information.
This is a true story, a devastating time of human loss and also of people’s way of life and their work, with livestock and wildlife consumed along with property. There are survival stories and moments of hope, particularly when an old Kangaroo, a frequent visitor to town, turns up in the aftermath by a water tank and people rally around to find some food for him.
This is not an easy read as far as the subject matter is concerned, but the author writes so well, that you are carried along in the flow, engaging with the men, women and children attempting to survive and also those brave men and women on the front line desperately trying to save them.
In the aftermath everyone wants answers… and justice for those who have perished… because nature was only the accomplice.
Also by Frank Prem
About Frank Prem
I’ve been a storytelling poet for about forty years. Longer in fact, as I remember the first poem I wrote while at secondary school was about 150 – 200 words long and was accepted in lieu of a 500 word essay. I think that may have been the start.
I love to read my work to a live audience, and have audio recorded some recent recordings and popped them on my author page. I have also done some studio- recorded work under the direction and accompaniment of my wife Leanne Murphy that can be listened to there. These poems are on mythological themes and the accompaniment by Leanne makes them a little bit extraordinary.
By profession, I am a psychiatric nurse and have worked across most facets of public psychiatry and the mental health/mental illness spectrum. My experiences and reflections on what I have seen and done are the subject of a forthcoming memoir – scheduled for late 2019, or perhaps more likely, 2020.
I’ve been published in magazines, zines and anthologies, in Australia and in a number of other countries, but for a long time I haven’t sought much publication. The whims of editors are a little too capricious and unknowable, so I have preferred to hone my craft and self-publish on my poetry blogs
Leanne and I reside in the beautiful township of Beechworth in the North-East of Victoria (Australia).
Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed the review for Frank’s poetry collection. Thanks Sally.