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In Between the Dancing – Book Review

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Published February 26th 2013
Warm, authentic Australian poetry
My much-thumbed copy of In Between the Dancing


Gleeson writes warmly, wittily and authentically, with carefully-chosen adjectives that make words and phrases stick inside you. Spending her childhood at a Soldier Settlement and since travelling widely, she draws on the stories she has gathered to produce this award-winning volume.

Immersing yourself in the poems for the first time, it feels as though you already half-know what she's talking about – perhaps it was on the news years ago, or someone mentioned it to you when you weren't really listening – but it was never really clear until now. This, I think, is Gleeson's greatness; the ability to make clear to us what is both known and hidden.

One of my favourite poems (and it's hard to choose) is 'Praying the Laps', which to me is a memoir of long days at the swimming pool, letting the mind wander as you follow the blue line up and down, repetitively. Gleeson uses this frame to speak of the people that are part of our lives; "I begin counting laps/ measuring progress with family, three children, five siblings/ two parents and then I do it again. Decades of laps." This is how she shows us of the beauty of the mundane – the passage of generations like the laps of a pool, each one following the next, concatenated thoughts and hopes for a family she loves dearly.

Anne plays with different forms, mixing prose, rhyming stanzas, annexed sentences and snappy lines. Her first volume of poetry is a confident leap towards a career many will be following - keep an eye out for her second intriguingly titled volume, Maisie and the Black Cat Band.
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