Anne Brewster

Anne Brewster is a Senior Lecturer at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. She has an interest in the explorative methodologies inaugurated by ‘language writing’. She writes and teaches fictocriticism, an experimental mode which brings together scholarly practices and concerns with a range of non-essayistic forms. She has published fictocriticism recently in the journals Salt and Cultural Studies Review (Australia). Her other main research area is whiteness and white readings of Australian Indigenous literature. She has published several books in this field including Reading Aboriginal Women’s Autobiography (1996) and Literary Formations (1995) and has co-edited an anthology of Australian Indigenous Writing, Those Who Remain Will Always Remember (2000).


In the hotel each key is sacred;
in the grip of the lock you are going one way.
In the hotel you open and close doors with calculation;
rooms are the invention of numbers.
In the hotel the pictures are scenes of sentimentality;
you are shocked by your own clichés.
In the hotel air-conditioning sucks your bones hollow;
at one with the machine, you cease to breathe.
In the hotel you dress and undress like a mannequin;
naked or clothed it’s a dumb show.
In the hotel you meet Goldilocks and the three bears;
when you ask him the time the white rabbit disappears.
In the hotel you are the prison and the prisoner;
words, like rats, gnaw at the bars.
In the hotel you are teller and the tale;
the mimicking face the voice betrays.

From Friendly Street No. 7 & Tuesday Night Live


In the window our ghostly figures lean
over drinks. Beyond,
planes pass on the tarmac, one pointing
to the black sky like a fish nosing
the ocean’s surface;
the other turns in to the lighted harbour
of temporary faces. The crowd by the bar
drinking of one accord is a wake;
the body’s already on the plane, memories
pasted to the glass like a poster
advertising a show years ago. Words slide
transparently; surfaces touch, press.
Hands discarded on the table like newspapers,
the change gleams distantly.

Airports don’t exist in the present:
they teeter on a fault line, a time warp,
hovering in the future. You have a face
without eyes, turned towards night.
Behind glass I gape and sparkle.

From Friendly Street No. 8 & Tuesday Night Live


plump out in the tropics.
With petals as thick as ice-cream –
they’re there for the feasting,
they break from the cluster like grapes;
crush them, soak in them,
they’re pure white
and they don’t bleed.

an island in a crisp turquoise sea.
The sand’s too coarse for basking,
the land is barren: volcanic rock,
ilang-ilang, the few stones
of a ruin: no water, no birds.
In the bright sun you reach,
dazzled, for frangipani. The man
walking with you, embarrassed,
averts his head from the odour
of mourning.

a woman; her straight black hair
schoolgirl neat. She’s 80,
a cook, living in someone else’s house.
She went to a convent school,
her English is excellent.
Last week her only sister died;
Esther cannot stop crying
she says she is sick.

I thought it would be easy to write:
grief is common and communal.
But today I found in the antipodean autumn
the last of the frangipani
too potent almost to touch.

From Friendly Street No. 8 & Tuesday Night Live