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2012 - Winner
This is a formidable collection of poems comprising a selection from six books published between 1980 and 2001, as well as many uncompromising, intelligent and sophisticated new poems. Ryan's poetry is dense, enraged, satirical and smart. She uses language to engage with the complex contradictions in relations between men and women and to respond to the anomie of the world-at-large. Her formally disruptive compositional style is distinctly unpredictable.
Gig Ryan's new poems highlight her confident and often startling use of rhetoric, metaphor and simile. There’s no showing off and yet her work dazzles with its shocking, unexpected and daring profiles of people, their habits and habitats. Ryan meshes the ancient classics with contemporary portrayal and in doing so, creates her own tradition. Her poems captivate the reader with their compassion whilst being acerbic, idiomatic, confronting and disorientating. Every line is worked, layered, argued for and nothing written is incidental. Sentimentality is absent from her writing and yet she manages to focus our attention on human relationships, on the loneliness that underlies existence, and the worldly-wise experience of living in cities that operate on money, machines and material things.
Ryan has made a profound impact on the work of her readers. Echoes of her uncompromisingly inquisitive irony, her provocative depictions of gender and class, and her unabashedly cutting edge, modernist aesthetics, can be heard across the work of many an Australian feminist, political or experimental poet. New and Selected Poems is a testimony to Ryan's remarkable achievements as a major Australian artist.