An excellent essay on Tasmanian publisher Walleah Press by Chris Ringrose appears in the latest Australian Poetry Journal (Vol 6.2), and within it – another great review and comments for Confessional Box.
Here’s the excerpt:
“Two jewels in Walleah’s crown of late have been Paul Mitchell and Vanessa Page…Vanessa Page, currently based in Brisbane, has had successes in prestigious competitions and some near-misses in unpublished manuscript competitions; Walleah put out her first full-length collection, Confessional Box, in 2013. Siobhan Hodge reviewed it in Cordite 53, and Peter Keneally picked it up for an astute review in Australian Book Review 351 (May 2013), commenting that, whether writing about the slipping away of a relationship or about life in the bush, Page ‘combines photographic exactness with a resounding turn of phrase’. Keneally noted the move in the final section of Confessional Box to ‘a new love and a guarded happiness’, but in terms that suggest the reviewer preferred the ‘control and clarity’ of the explorations of a suburban relationship in the first section. These are indeed fine portrayals of the life and the confidence in leaving a relationship and a place. The scene is set by the opening poem, ‘Cartography’, where ‘the garden hose [is left] running in the afternoon rain. Yesterday, curled up in the letterbox’, and ‘rain comes / arrhythmic shrapnel / tin-tin-tin’ (3). There is a sense of release in the second section of the book, with the move to the bush, ‘big sky country / another hard-edged Friday night / hanging sweat-heavy / in a summer solstice’ (30). As for the hard-won sense of fullness in the third section, ‘embers’, I found the poems to her young son, in particular, brought the series of poems to a satisfying conclusion.
In her blog, Vanessa Page comments that ‘the idea for the book was born out of a conversation with Ralph Wessman from Walleah Press at the 2012 Queensland Poetry Festival. Ralph approached me asking if he could publish my two short-listed Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Prize manuscripts in a single volume. The two manuscripts were almost companion pieces so it was a perfect fit’. Bravo, Mr. Wessman. The musicality of Page’s lines, and her insights into love, loss and hope, make this a volume to treasure. As well as being another example of Ralph’s initiative, and his eye for good writing.”
And there were some further lovely affirmations from Ralph in the Q&A section of the essay.
Are there any Walleah Press books you are especially happy with and proud of?
“…Vanessa Page’s Anne Elder award-winning collection Confessional Box – it wasn’t the award, it was the writing.”
Which have been the most successful in terms of prizes, awards or sales?
“…Vanessa Page’s Anne Elder Award with Confessional Box a couple of years ago…”
It’s been great to see the reviews of small Australian presses featured in APJ – thanks to Michael Sharkey for giving a great platform. Also in the same edition you can read more about Kent MacCarter’s Cordite Books.