Messages from the Embers:
from devastation to renewal, witness the events through the medium of poetry that marked the heart of Australia during the bushfires of 2019 and 2020.
DECEMBER 1ST, 2021
Review written by Ariel E. Delaflore
Messages from the Embers is available in paperback format only.
Sold for 24.99$ CAD through our Terrian Library, all profits will be directed to the non-profit organization Blaze Aid to help rural communities recover and rebuild post-bushfires of 2019-2020
Across the world, news reports of the 2019-2020 Australian bushfires were made by different outlets. People across the globe were left shocked, mortified, or numb as they either listened or watched on as acre by acre, everything from lush Australian rainforest and human infrastructure to far too much life were claimed by the metal-twisting infernos. Clear, fact-filled, and concise as those mainstream reports had been, each one had not only been written from an objective perspective, they had also been tailored by the reporter as well to suit their news company’s style and agenda.
Messages from the Embers is an anthology of poems written by a variety of Australian poets using just as many poetic styles. Together, they give readers unique insights into how the bushfires truly affected the country’s people beyond basic facts and statistics. Through their poetic voices, we outsiders from different countries can finally gain a true grasp on how the catastrophe affected the heart of the country - its people.
Together, those poets paint a candid, anthropological image of a people’s suffering, its struggles, and its triumphs lived during a catastrophic period in their history. Each stroke used to fill their canvas is as unique as the individuals’ experiences and emotional responses to the event.
The anthology is divided into four chronological parts that take its readers on a harrowing journey through Australia as it was during those two tumultuous years. The first is titled “Part One: Prelude.” Its poems describe from various perspectives how an extreme drought had wickedly primed the Australian lands for a devastating 2019’s bushfire season.
Poems such as Drought sonnet, 26.11.19, by Helen Moore, help demonstrate just how much the psyche of those that had been touched by the drought the most had been affected along with the physical welfare of the lands and livestock. In such a manner, a sense of urgency is well-established long before the first flame is ignited.
In “Part Two: Devastation” readers are led through the medium of poetry to experience the devastations caused by the 2019 and 2020 bushfires. Its many raw, personal depictions of how those metal-twisting fires roared and raged across the lands create frighteningly unique first-hand-experience insights into the event which are not for the faint of heart.
It’s a guarantee that all of your senses will be engaged.
“Part Three: Aftermath” is perhaps the most thought-provoking part of the anthology among the four. Its poems depict how communities across the country survived and learned to live again in a changed Australia.
Through poems like Milena Cifali’s Possum requiem: Ode to Mallacoota, readers come to understand that so much more beyond the material was lost to the 2019-2020 bushfires. That poem alone has the potential to leave its readers with a greater sense of appreciation for those little things in life most often taken for granted.
This part of the anthology also has a variety of poems like Kelly Van Nelson’s Functionality extinct, that encourage readers to contemplate the probability that the true culprit behind the devastating infernos was none-other than climate change. In light of the times, that remains a very important line of through which everyone should take the time to travel, seeing as climate change continues to create extreme weather across the globe.
Lastly, we have “Part Four: Hope.” Its poems create a light strong enough to pierce through the heavy smoke and cinder-filled air that was so well-depicted in so many poems that came before them.
Through poems like Holding on, by Kathryn Sadakierski, readers are permitted to breathe easily again knowing that the various wounds and scars left on the lands and its creatures by the inferno are healing. Then, in poems like The green is gone by Dorothy Swoope, a new range of color and temperature beyond bright, flaming orange and smoking coal-black are used to paint new imagery of cool, green, bursts of life, emerging from the charred lands as those lands begin to heal along with the creatures that survived the smoke and flames.
Evidence that life is an even stronger element than fire is presented throughout “Part Four: Hope” in poems such as those. Only praise can be given to the miracle of life’s tenacity in the face of such devastation.
At the turn of the anthology’s last page, one can take from Messages from the Embers that we must trust in humanity’s ability to heal and find solutions to common problems such as those born from the devastating 2019-2020 bushfires, and the associated climate crisis.
With this trust, hope that effective solutions will be found in time to help humanity and life beyond it survive these great times of environmental change will continue to flourish. Many messages found within the poems of the anthology reassure us that this trust would not be misplaced.