How to Belong (Ginninderra Press, 2019)
Aristotle argued that as we mature, we act less aimlessly and more purposefully. How to Belong explores a myriad of ways we might approach this ‘good life’. Suggestive rather than instructive, Anne Collins does not ask anything of us that she does not ask of herself; diligent and compassionate in her self-reflection on being and belonging in her/our cultural, political and familial landscapes. With immediacy of language and vivid imagery these poems cast an ever-widening circle of light on matters that are at once particular and universal, of the times and timeless.
Like the girl on the cover these are strong poems. Political as tartan skirts. Personal as home. Thoughtful, questioning, questing. Plain-speaking. These poems do the kind of truth-telling the world needs right now. A collection of considered work with the capacity to tilt your world.
How to Belong
After the exhibition Snapshot Photography and Migrant Women: A Tasmanian Experience.
I am the official story
with a barely-mentioned subtext.
Pieces of my jig-saw self are scattered
across a fraught landscape:
mine, yours, theirs.
Lives driven by
politics, poverty, danger, death,
– and, for a few, adventure –
across imagination’s borders.
In my snapshot
a three-year-old girl in a tartan kilt
stands erect, hands on hips
against a backdrop of gum trees.
I am she
the white child
invited to populate
this British land short of people.*
How to make a home away from home?
How to be a newcomer,
how to live your life
in a language not your own?
My mother’s accent underlined
between being an Australian like my father
What to take,
what to re-place elsewhere?
virginal in their wedding gift-box.
The door-knocker in the shape
of a bag-pipe player.
A claw-foot brooch.
Things that remind us
of who we think we are
in an unknown land
with its upside-down seasons,
its blinding light
its untold story.
Excerpt from the title poem How to Belong