I, Clodia, and Other Portraits
In this fine-grained new collection by Anna Jackson, Clodia Metelli speaks and a photographer lifts her camera . . .
I, Clodia is the story of Clodia Metelli - poet and lover - and her relations with her far-away paramour Catullus, with her husband Metellus Celer, her brother Publius Clodius and her accuser Cicero. By giving Clodia - the 'Lesbia' of Catullus's famous love poetry - her own first-person narration, Anna Jackson upends and reinvigorates the beloved classical sequence with biting wit and tender attention. Who was Clodia and what did she think about the affair, the gossip, the scandal, the poems? Jackson honours and subverts her source material in lines that are a marvel of ventriloquism. The book's second section, 'The photographer's secret', furthers this superb exploration of voice and portrayal. The photographer in this sequence reads, writes, gives presents and considers the art of portraiture. But who is examining, and who is being examined? Above all else, Anna Jackson takes us within and without a range of characters in her characteristically witty style - sometimes mock breathless, sometimes dryly pointed, and always clever, stylish and emotionally engaging. If a photograph is a 'secret about a secret', as Diane Arbus put it, these poems are also secrets - about lives; about portraiture; about those who have the power to record and betray.
More about Anna Jackson
Read an extract here
No whimsical, petal-of-a-voice here. This is where the layers utterly captivate me. Draw me into a woman brought to sparking life, and all the issues and ideas that emanate. - Paula Green, NZ Poetry Shelf
Anna Jackson is well-established on the New Zealand literary landscape, and a new book from her is always a treat. - Sarah Quigley, NZ Listener
This Clodia is too alive, ready once more to enter the pantheon of great lovers, woken for a moment from her endless sleep. - John Horrocks, Landfall Review