Curio published by Walleah Press, 2014. $20 RRP Available for purchase directly from the publisher or contact Kristin directly: kristinhannaford (at) hotmail.com for further details of this or any other collection listed here.
‘Curio’ invites readers into a world of artefacts, curiosities and natural history specimens, as poet Kristin Hannaford pays homage to the history of women working as taxidermists, naturalists, and exhibitors in 19th Century Australia. This poetry collection profiles the lives of two extraordinary women in Australia’s colonial history, Jane Catharine Tost and her daughter Ada Jane Rohu, who established and ran ‘Tost and Rohu’ – a taxidermy and curio shop known affectionately at the time as ‘The Queerest Shop in Sydney’.
“Jane Catharine Tost and Ada Jane Rohu’s legacy is brought to life through the deft hand of Hannaford whose narration fluctuates between the voice of a ringmaster, nature documentary reporter whispering in the bush at night, librarian detailing references and scientist describing method. Hannaford slips into the skin of her protagonists to speak to us of craft and aesthetics with poignancy.
“In many ways opening this collection is like opening a door to an intriguing salon full of spectacle and tragedy where birds and marsupials are re-encountered as specimens wired in the fashion of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Hannaford’s poems sing with the tangible presence of an arranging hand, the rules of scientific display and the taxidermist’s precise and meticulous work. The collection is an act of salvage and resurrection, a remembrance for two extraordinary women and their life’s work. Open Curio on any page and you will forget where you are and get hooked on reading it again and again.”
Jayne Fenton Keane
Ali Jane Smith reviews Curio in the Weekend Australian Review
“These are well written lyric poems with moments of excitement, like the uncomfortable Pickling: Trawalla, Central Victoria 1840, a description of an encounter with ‘‘the Wathawarrung women’’. This is presented as a meeting of difference, though the poet hints that the Wathawarrung women’s trading of their “o possum rugs” is a reminder of the similarities and points of connection that the newcomer taxidermist appears to ignore.”
Hamish Danks Brown reviews Curio at Rochford St Review
an excerpt –
“Kristin Hannaford’s Curio is a very well conceived collection which attains a fine balance between the poetic and the prosaic. This book successfully animates an arcane historical topic that draws upon the aesthetics and the practical skills of taxidermy, and the scientific perspective of a bygone era in colonial and newly federated Australia, together with the general popular perceptions of that era”
Libby Hart reviews Curio at What the Bird Said
“Hannaford’s subject matter is as wide ranging as dioramas of flocks, animals from the Antipodes (‘grey and white spotted exotics / from a pouched underworld’), and the reprehensible act of disturbing and collecting the bodies of Indigenous peoples (‘a Gunn-e-darr man, rising, / carrying his country’).
Specific detail and terminology about taxidermy is also included, as too are poems that focus on particular and important commissions. The suite, ‘To a Taxidermist’, is especially enticing. Each of the six poems begin with ‘you who …’, and if such lines were ever collated a seventh poem would be surely possible. Hannaford writes:
I : ‘You who celebrate the dead and within death / revel in the enchantment of skin-folds …’
II: ‘You who catalogue the catalogue of the undead …’
III: ‘You who understand the elasticity of skin as fabric …’
IV: ‘You who change profession according to the / seasons of a pelt …’
V: ‘You who belong to a long line of corpse-keepers, / embalmers, feline and ibis stuffers, mountain-top / sacrifice makers, hide takers and tanners, saint / venerators, salt rubbers, armature and mannequin / shapers …’
VI: ‘You who sculpt the anatomies of concealment, / a feather artfully placed, careful surgical seaming / on the underside of torsos. An upholsterer’s / appreciation of the distortion of leathers on a ribcage,’ / the animal quietly shifting and settling in its coat …’
In ‘An Arrangement of Skins’ the poet focuses on flaying, fleshing, curing, scouring, pickling, tanning and drying. Such subject matter recalls a scene from the film, Mr Turner, where the artist’s father shaves course hair from the face of a sow carcass in order to collect hair for a new paint brush. Later that sweet, smiling face is proudly presented to the dinner table in order to illustrate just how complex our use of and relationship to (and with) other animals can be.
Kristin Hannaford’s Curio is a fine example of a thematic collection of poetry… Curio is impressive in its research and it is utterly unique in its scope. Hannaford should be commended for such things”
Contact kristinhannaford (at) hotmail.com for further details.
Trace: Poetry, Art and the Built Environment
Chapbook with Paul Summers exploring some of the histories behind some of Rockhampton’s most distinctive heritage sites. Published by Creative Capricorn, 2013.
Chapbook published with Post Pressed, Brisbane, 2007
Reviews of Fragile Context
‘Kristin Hannaford’s poems … thematically blur or dissolve lines, those related ones that exist between culture and nature. She invokes the binary to acknowledge one’s reliance on the other, to promote the reader’s recognition of one because of the other, and just subtly, the danger of one overwhelming the other. In such a way, the form of the poem and its awareness of itself creates a beautiful irony, that the poem is a product of culture, of humankind, but would not exist without nature’s influence.’
Read the full review
‘I love poems that tell me new things and take me to new places, and Kristin Hannaford joyously knows that this is the business of poetry’ Peter Bishop Varuna
‘Whether Hannaford’s poems deal with tropical places, or with the ecology of the personal life, they are all from the intemperate zones of the heart’ Ross Clark
‘Love poems, sensuous, joyous, descriptions of our tropical wetlands and unique rainforest: this latest collection by CQ poet Kristin Hannaford, launched in August this year, is a delight to read. As Ross Clark suggests, “Whether Hannaford’s poems deal with tropical places or with the ecology of personal life, they are all from the intemperate zones of the heart’. Kristin has attended and tutored several island writers workshops with Idiom 23 over the last several years, and as I read her vivid and visually sensitive verses, I can remember every detail of those weekends lost in the environment of Pumpkin and North Keppel Islands, on Kanomi, the home of the Woppaburra people, and in the Byfield rainforest, and neighbouring Shoalwater Bay, the home of the Darumbal people. Images of beach curlews and their haunting cry, the grasslands, mangroves, driftwood, seas shells and fishing boats inspire Hannaford’s rich visual verses, but these aren’t the only inspiration for Kristin. Her family is always present in the shadows of her wetlands and eucalypt forests.
Review Idiom 23, Vol 19 December 2007 Reviewer Liz Huf
‘Inhale’ in Swelter –
Joint collection with Louise Waller, published by Interactive Press, Brisbane, 2003
Reviews of ‘Inhale’ published in Swelter
“Kristin Hannaford writes about relationships, family, friends and women’s experience. Other female artists also shape her perceptions: Janet Frame in particular, who corrects the academic study of ‘hemispherectomies’ and ‘Oliver Sacks oddballs’. ‘Janet Frame screamed at me froml the pages of her asylum/ salvation poetry’ ( I apogee) And in ‘Looking for Sarah there’s the intriguing presence of the female lead from John Fowles’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman: she examines ‘ammonite fossils’ on the Lyme Regis sea-shore, and the poem ends with a clever twist as the mysterious woman sets one down that will wait‘forAttenborough to arrive’. The poems I most warmed to were the snapshots of people: stolen moments like Uncle Len’s performance at his daughter’s twenty-first, who made ‘short work of a beer/ turned the sounds of Eagle Rock into the hall/ and danced in a pot bellied fury’”
“Hannaford’s ‘Honeymoon’ embodies the mood and modulations of Australian poetry’s ‘new country’. Cruising in the ‘Torque Flight Valiant … / Following the Sturt highway, west, to Mildura’, the visible reminders of human penetration of the land are everywhere: ‘Kangaroo after kangaroo lay splayed and bloated’. The poem’s crucial incident is the Valiant hitting a bird and ‘the thud/ under the front left wheel’. The female character stops, walks down the road and picks up a feather but the male is unmoved: ‘All the way to Mildura, Dan makes chicken noises in the car.’
“Swelter (is) permeated with this kind of illusion-free sense of what it means to encounter and to write about landscape today. These are volumes in which the vagaries of human response and emotion are measured against the omnipresent natural………Both books also testify to the intelligence, craft and preoccupations which mark off Australian poetry’s new country terrain.” Brian Musgrave, Coppertales
‘It takes a special kind of confidence to allow your poem to walk unaided on such tight, bald lines….Many of Hannaford’s poems look at the odd view, and refuse to arrive there by the scenic route…Once you’ve taken time with the contents of Inhale, stopped and savoured, stared into space, the poems begin to form part of a whole rather than standing on their own, and the link, I think, is nature. Nature as redeemer – “two bodies are swimming / listening for the shrill keening of whale songs”; as emblem-of-life – “A body intended for sediment / leaves a footprint on this other planet”; as basis for image – “Over on the riverbank a white box eucalypt / is struggling to keep blossom-laden branches dry.”
Patricia Prime, Stylus Poetry Journal Oct 2003
Kristin Hannaford’s section, ‘Inhale’ contains some vivid evocations of the tropics: ‘long shadow arms along the hoop pine, / the humidity, heavy with scent’ (‘Yoga, Queen St, Yeppoon’). It is an olfactory environment, and smells sit in the creases and furrows of many of her pieces: ‘scents of citrus’, ‘pungent underarms’, ‘the dank wet soil // smells metallic’.
’Her education is integral to her poetry. She brings touches of scepticism to matters of superstition, more rooted in earth and practicality’
‘Hannaford’s poetry explores, feels and offers sensual insight into skin, heat and water. Hers is the braver poetry ( )…, on a firmer footing when exploring form, and immersed in the world surrounding her’ Stephen Lawrence, JAS Review of Books Nov 2003