Things in a Glass Box

(Also see my new verse memoir, Vagabondage and selected poems The Party of Life)

[cover image for Things in A Glass Box]

Cover image by photographic artist Helen Kundicevic, from a series called ‘The Philosopher’s Stone’.

In the tunnels the windows

become mirrors.

I want to pick up the lobster phone
and call you…


Beth Spencer’s first book of poetry, Things in a Glass Box, was originally published in the SCARP/Five Islands New Poets series*, and it is now available as a Kindle ebook for $1.99.

It will also be available soon as a downloadable PDF.

If you don’t own a Kindle, you can download free software to read Kindle books on your Ipad, computer (Mac or PC) or even on your phone.

Click here to buy the Kindle ebook for $1.99

‘Beth Spencer’s condensed narratives elide the categories of poetry & prose — she uses poetics to nudge fiction over the edge. Episodic, surreal, tender & tough, these poems traverse suburbs studded with the encoded artefacts of family, popular culture, memory and desire.’ — Pam Brown

‘An (other) order of things: the souvenirs of the everyday — objects, images, fragments of speech, domestic scenes — are scrutinised through television screens, train windows, cameras and display cases. Apparent transparencies become splintered to create new optics: these ‘things’ collected and contained, far from amortised, suddenly look back at the viewer. This is writing as surprising and familiar as the repressed when it erupts into life; as piercing as pleasure or pain.’ —Anna Gibbs

This collection contains 15 poems, including two long pieces, ‘The Museum of Fire’, and ‘The Mummy’s Foot’ which won the Age Short Story Award in 1994.

Poems from Things in a Glass Box were also produced, with Sydney sound artist Stuart Ewings, for a feature for ABC Radio National’s Poetica in 2004.

You can read a short essay, called ‘The Museum of Fire’, which is based around the poems, the radio production, and the book’s themes of history, memory and representation.

These audio versions are also available on a double CD collection of Beth’s sound and radio pieces called Body of Words, and a companion CD-Rom, Box of Words (Dogmedia, 2004). The CD-Rom also has discussion notes and writing exercises based on the poems, to use in teaching. (Please use the contact form if you’d like more information about these.)

Here are some links to a few poems on the web:

Read Diorama: in the Melbourne Museum’ 
or listen to the audio version of Diorama

‘A Blue Mountains Coin-in-the-Slot Telescope Poem’
(not in this book, because there wasn’t enough space,
first published in Southerly, Winter, 1995
and now in The Party of Life)

‘Pandora on the Eve of Destruction’ (written for the first Gulf War in 1991, and reprinted in Specusphere in 2005, where it was nominated as one of the year’s best Australian sf & fantasy pieces on Bill Congreve & Michelle Marquardt’s annual recommended list. 

iconplay Listen to the audio of Love Poem
or read it at Poem and Dish blog.

iconplay Listen to the audio of The Museum of Fire on youtube.

*the SCARP/Five Islands New Poets series was a wonderful innovation edited by Ron Pretty and John Scott, then at the University of Wollongong. Some of the poets and writers first published in this series include James Bradley, Peta Spear, Andy Kissane, M T C Cronin, Lisa Jacobson, Peter Minter, Mark O’Flynn, Jane Gibian, Kerry Glastonbury, and many more. Each chapbook was 32 pp (and it’s amazing how many poems you can fit in that space), and sold for under $10. Each series (one a year) published 6 poets, and the poets got to tour around and do readings as a group. There was so much mutual support in the poets from my series, and such attentive editing and production from Ron and John, that the whole experience was an absolute pleasure.

For a full list of Five Islands publications see here.

Click here to go to Amazon & get
Things in a Glass Box for the special launch price of $1.99

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