Review: @darby_hudson

I first came across Darby Hudson outside the local real estate agent. After that first encounter I started running into him all over town. Each meeting was like a gift – sometimes amusing, sometimes joyful or heart-wrenchingly sad. Occasionally he elicited disbelief, but always awe at his sublime observations on life. Each utterance was food for the soul.

Over the following weeks Darby kept appearing by stealth, at bus stops, outside the Bendigo Bank, and leaning on a post out front of the opportunity shop. I’d see him when out walking my dog at all times of day and night, always stopping to absorb his words. Such beautiful, authentic examinations of life. Snippets of simple, crystal clear observation made by a guy leaning so casually on a post or a wall.

I imagined him slouching like that, one knee bent, foot against the wall, fag hanging from the corner of his mouth, fedora tipped slightly downward. And as the world rushed by in a spin, he was stillness, scribbling on a tiny note pad.

I was changed by each encounter. As if when I noticed him, he had gently peeled back his chest to reveal his heart. His repose imploring me to pay more attention to the world around me. I started looking for Darby everywhere. It was like a treasure hunt.

Eventually Darby disappeared from my town. I suppose he had moved on to observe other places and other people. So I bought his collection of poems Falling Upward to keep him close and remind me of him.

When I dip into his work, the chaos of the world falls away and everything makes sense. Darby’s words were like an elixir, I could not get enough. So of course I had to have his other works – 100 Points of ID and Walk. I sense I may be buying more to give away to friends who would also enjoy his pearls.

Images: @darby_hudson around Warrandyte

Book review: How Decent Folk Behave by Maxine Beneba Clarke

Maxine Beneba Clarke’s latest poetry collection, How Decent Folk Behave, arrived in the post recently. The book is a thought provoking collection of contemporary poems ranging across topics including climate change, domestic violence, parenting, feminism, Black Lives Matter and the pandemic.

Her words are clean, clear, simple, provocative and powerful as you’d expect from someone who comes from slam poetry roots. In How Decent Folk Behave, she reflects on the intersectionality of feminism, race, class and violence, shines a light on refugee detention, as well as young people in the age of digitisation and climate woes.

hannah and them kids died brutal
we don’t know ’em all from soap
but it aches my soul to muse on it
so babe, your mama needs to know
that a good man
exactly the man you’ll be
will lead a bad man home.

Beneba Clarke’s work is wide ranging and offers a fresh perspective on recent world events. Her short stories Foreign Soil won the 2013 Victorian Premier’s Unpublished Manuscript Award amongst others, her memoir The Hate Race (2016) won the NSW Premier’s Literary Award, and her first poetry collection Carrying the World won the 2018 Victorian Premiers Prize for Poetry. How Decent Folk Behave earns its place amongst her award winning works.

Grab a copy. How Decent Folk Behave is a great book to open at random and read out loud at your next soiree.