Ask Me About The Future by Rebecca Jessen
Review by Kylie Thompson
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: poetry, Australian poetry
There are poetry collections you buy because they’re popular and you’re meant to like them, and those you buy because they’re so amazing you’re not sure how to get through the rest of the week without them on your bookshelf. Ask Me About The Future is definitely on the artistic survival masterlist.
I’ll be honest, I knew I’d love this book the moment the accompanying twitter bot, @AskMe_Oracle appeared, giving you the opportunity to ask a question of the Oracle and receive a poetic, suitably cryptic response. Like the Oracle, Rebecca Jessen has created something profound, magical, and just a little bit quirky.
Ask Me About The Future spans past, present and (unsurprisingly) future, offering worlds in which topics such as family dynamics, love and loss, sexuality and politics weave seamlessly together with pop culture, reality television, and the way the voyeuristic gaze doesn’t end with the evening’s episode. The poetry here is a masterclass in emotional journeying, sometimes tense, sometimes longing, but always bringing a glimmer of hopelight to the darkness in profoundly beautiful ways. That hope at times feels almost protective, especially in the works exploring Australia’s marriage equality debate, creating a shared solidarity that rings with a new poignancy now as our lives are made infinitely smaller and at times more isolated due to Covid.
There are times experimental poetry feels more focused on aesthetic than emotional connection, but here, Jessen makes artful connection seem easy. This seems to be a cornerstone of her work- a clear capacity to experiment and create aesthetic beauty without diminishing the linguistic artistry at play.
This is not the collection for you if you’re looking for serious, hyper-intellectual poetic fare. But if you enjoy work that is playfully profound and witty while taking you on an emotionally compelling journey, you’re going to want to get your hands on Ask Me About The Future immediately.
Ask Me About The Future is published by UQP and is available at leading retailers, and through the publisher’s website.