descent by Susan Hawthorne

As an extension of Arc’s Canada-Australia joint issue with Australia’s Cordite magazine, over the next several weeks, Arc will be publishing online selected pieces from Australian poets — this is in addition to the Australian poetry published in print in Arc 77. For the Arc-Cordite joint issue, each magazine handed the editorial responsibilities over to the other: so that Cordite filled Arc #77 (and these these webpages) with nothing but Australian poetry, prose and artwork; Arc did the same for Cordite (Arc’s part of this partnership will be published online at Cordite in December 2014). Our intent in this partnership is to showcase and cross-pollinate poetics between Australia and Canada and to share with a broader audience poetry that may be little known outside of home borders.



the call
that hollow sound of Cumaea
I was here before
thousands of years ago

your hundred mouths
words frothed at the edge
of my mouth

the journey looming
flight into the unknown
descent into
the dark thighs of your cave

my hair snake-wreathed
Etruscan Medusa
speaking with a hundred voices
the sibilant hiss of prophecy

seizure grasped
I flail at vanishing memory
bruised rise from darkness
almost miss the plane


Susan Hawthorne‘s collection Cow was shortlisted for the 2012 Kenneth Slessor Award (Australia) and finalist in the Audre Lorde Lesbian Poetry Award (USA). In 2013 she was the BR Whiting Library Resident in Rome, funded by the Australia Council, where she wrote her forthcoming collection Lupa and Lamb.

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