After the Demolition by Zenobia Frost
Review by Kylie Thompson
Rating: 4.5 stars
Genre: Poetry, Australian Poetry
Publisher: Cordite Books
This book has multiple fire exits. This book has too many keys. You can climb through a window into this book. Some of these poems are not on the lease, and you are willing to take it all the way to the Residential Tenancies Authority.
For a generation that seems to have missed the window of opportunity for ‘a home of one’s own’, the rental market can be a source of constant tension, stress, and ugly crying. It’s feels incredibly rare to find something beautiful in all the chaos of shared housing, sometimes neglected and dangerous houses, potentially psychotic landlords, and nosey neighbours, which makes After The Demolition an incredibly ambitious poetry collection. How do you take the arguably ridiculous and occasionally traumatic, soften the edges and create something otherworldly beautiful?
Zenobia masterfully balances the emotional and the intellectual, highlighting the beauty, insanity, and humour of life in the rental market, and more broadly, in life itself. With another writer, this collection could have been quite shallow, a series of portraits of homes in decay and the people living precarious within them. Instead, the descriptions transcend the practicalities of the space, veer off into creative tangents that take the bare bones of beige walls and create something new and beautiful. After The Demolition is rife with subtle humour, grace, and compassion, an exploration of the self, the heart, and the hearth that leaves you contemplating your home, and yourself, in newer, perhaps gentler, ways.
This is usually the part where I say ‘this is the book to avoid if…’ but I’m honestly struggling to think of something to say. I guess if you have an axe phobia, the cover might be problematic?
Yeah, I’m reaching here. The truth is that it’s hard not to love Zenobia’s work, from her ability to refocus the reader’s gaze onto the beauty and comedy of life, to the delicate contemplation of complex relationships between ourselves, our loved ones, our lives and our world. For fans of poetry that explores and reimagines the world, and poetry willing to throw aside the cynicism inherent in its subject matter, this is a definite must-read.
After The Demolition is published through Cordite Books, with copies available through selected retailers, and through the publisher’s website.