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lip verse: heartbeats


Candy Royalle is a formidable performance artist who inhabits a unique place somewhere between the magic of storytelling and poetry. To see Candy bring her words to life is a three-dimensional spectacle—one I was fortunate enough to witness at the Melbourne spoken word gig Sweetalkers a few years ago.

Performance is so much at the heart of Royalle’s artistic practice that reading her on the page can feel as though a vital dimension is missing—a little like reading a play script without getting to see the play. But for fans who love what they see on stage and wish to take home something to remember it by, this chapbook will be the perfect companion.

There are some exquisite lines in this book—

(I am beating your name
into the dust of us)

And, as you’d expect from a spoken-word artist who crafts such rich aural landscapes in her live performances, plenty of evocative sounds—

fist deep in primitive pleasings

* * *

I began to build a citadel out of sighs
so that you might realise the true
nature of this thing

* * *

the crunch of dirt beneath his feet

One wholly new aspect of Royalle’s work that reveals itself on the page is her creative and innovative use of punctuation. She is not afraid of running words together or turning familiar symbols inside-out—


* * *

)we create only to suffer(

* * *

?love might be the only reason we exist?

Consider her delightfully original placement of the full-stop below—

Whatever is hidden
remains so for a reason
it’s not for either of us to dig
just know we can never exchange
this piece of small
for something big

Her line breaks are often captivating—

I am reduced to the usual
grand statements about
the cosmos

a satellite

And at times she approaches the realm of concrete poetry—









I am impressed by the scope of Royalle’s artistic vision. She evokes the ancient bardic tradition of telling tales that are wonderfully epic in their references and dimensions—

I painted a masterpiece
with a brush made from the eye-lashes
of Bisu Hathor Aprodite and Kamadeva
when those gods wept
from the pain of the pluck
I used the drops
to wet my brush

The final poem in the book is the heartfelt performance piece ‘Memories’, which was the worthy winner of the 2012 Nimbin Performance Poetry World Cup—

I am my grandfather’s memories
of sunshine streaming through olive trees

There is something admirable about Royalle’s writing and the intention behind it. She weaves words to heal herself and others—and, ultimately, the world.

Heartbeats is available here.

Bronwyn Lovell lives in Melbourne. Her poetry has been published in the Australian Poetry Journal, Australian Love Poems, Antipodes, Cordite Poetry Review and the Global Poetry Anthology. Bronwyn has won the Adrien Abbott Poetry Prize and been shortlisted for the Newcastle Poetry Prize, the Bridport Prize, and the Montreal International Poetry Prize. She works as the Publications Officer for Writers Victoria.

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