Carrying the World by Maxine Beneba Clark

Carrying the World by Maxine Beneba Clark

Poetry · Hachette Australia

A haunting visit to the International Museum of Slavery, in Liverpool England. A feisty young black girl pushing back against authority. The joy and despair of single parenthood. A love-hate relationship with words. This collection brings the best of a decade-long international poetry career to the page.

Judges' Report

Maxine Beneba Clarke has become an important voice in Australian literature, working across literary genres and giving powerful expression to her experiences of racial discrimination in Australia. The poems in Carrying the World move between the local and the global, using vernacular prose and images put together in ways that become either sombre or effervescent; they demand the attention of readers.

Most of the free verse poems in this volume are short vignettes - a page or so - which present a person, place or experience, drawn with a firm hand. Two longer poems offer more complex visions, in particular, linking past to present, and different parts of the world to each other. "Demerara" evokes the history of colonialism, specifically the cultivation, trade, and consumption of sugar. By presenting a series of images, in a way that is almost photographic and yet sharply poetic, readers are asked to consider the relationship between a taste for sweetness that they might have, and the sourness of human experience that underpinned the cultivation of this desire in the west. The long poem "Nothing Here Needs Fixing" likewise juxtaposes the mundane - simple advice that nothing is wrong - with savagely ironic depictions of life for those who are threatened by violence, but who are overlooked in society.

Maxine Beneba Clark

Maxine Beneba Clarke is a widely published Australian writer of Afro-Caribbean descent and the author of the poetry collections Gil Scott Heron Is on Parole and Nothing Here Needs Fixing. Maxine's short fiction, non-fiction and poetry have been published in numerous publications including Overland, the AgeMeanjin, the Saturday Paper and the Big Issue.

Her critically acclaimed short fiction collection Foreign Soil (2014) won the ABIA for Literary Fiction Book of the Year 2015, the 2015 Indie Book Award for Debut Fiction. Maxine was also named as one of the Sydney Morning Herald's Best Young Novelists for 2015, as well as being shortlisted for the Matt Richell Award for New Writing at the 2015 ABIAs and the 2015 Stella Prize. A collection of Maxine's poetry Carrying The World, her memoir The Hate Race and her first children's picture book The Patchwork Bike were all published in 2016.