Infinite Ends is an expansive collection. Presented chronologically, it is Blakeian in its transition from innocence to experience. Intelligent, direct and nuanced Lin’s poems enquire and question, explore and wrestle with ideas and experiences. They are muscular and contemplative and plumb relationships with people and place using a variety of forms and styles. Sometimes deeply personal they share the universality of grief and loss without sentimentality but with a raw directness. These are brave poems. There are also poems of joy, shared memory and meaning. Infinite Ends holds the reader close, rewards with vivid images, moments of wry humour and an understated tenderness.
This collection has come about from ten years of experimenting with poetic form, and the poems have grown with me through PhD candidature, moving out of home, getting married, and various travel adventures. The motivation behind each poem was essentially some act of exploration, of following an instinct by layering language until I arrived at a poetic text that rang true in my mind. The poems are at times speculative and fictional, but extend to the personal and autobiographical. Brought together under the title Infinite Ends, the collection’s main preoccupations are the elegiac, the ekphrastic, poems of place centred on Lake Monger, Perth, Japan, Burma and elsewhere, and the classic and contemporary monuments that bridge our collective consciousness.
While the title Infinite Ends comes from a poem about a swimming pool, and describes the sunlight which goes to a seemingly indefinite number of destinations, it also references final things that go on for perpetuity—like a lingering grief—or a never-ending number of final things. I seek to explore loss as an ending but also as an act of opening up, and history—shared or personal—as a vehicle for thinking about one’s own subjectivity. Likewise, art, literature, film and photography become endpoints for the artists that unlock an infinite potentiality of responses and interpretations, but also in their own right have the ability to diminish, revive, and endure. In this way, I think the book’s meditations reflect the capacity of the poem as having infinite ends, whether that be via the line, the caesura, or the ephemeral moment in which it is read.
There is a common thread of mothers, particularly the lessons learnt from mothers and grandmothers, and it feels apt that I have finalised the collection when experiencing pregnancy and motherhood for the very first time. Like not winding a lipstick all the way to the top, or knowing that oil and salt are the essential ingredients to make a home, these lessons seem small and quotidian but resonate on a deeper scale. This collection explores femininity and girlhood, and the ways women can regain power in small ways, whether through laughing at a failed séance, the indulgent freedom of weeping, or by mocking those who have been watching them.
Such adversarial relationships are overturned in love poems such as ‘Matilda Bay’, ‘Wedding Rehearsal, St Joseph’s’, and ‘Night Terrors’, where shared futures are a space of collaboration and mutual strength. Churches are a recurring site in these poems and become places of multiculturalism, faith, destruction and decay. But perhaps more pervasive is the everyday spirituality found while exercising in a pool, or the sense of renewal and hope that comes with buying a first home. The poems experiment with free verse, prose poetry, concrete poetry and the pantoum, and explore the endless possibilities that open up when, paradoxically, poetic practice is constrained or limited. After drafting, one of the editors pointed out to me that this collection deals with rites of passage—wedding dress shopping, job interviews etc—and I hope it is life’s limitless supply of endings that allow this book to acknowledge the elegiac whilst also celebrating the promise of what comes next
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