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y separately published work icon The Agonist selected work   poetry  
Issue Details: First known date: 2017... 2017 The Agonist
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'With its wildness and originality, The Agonist is an exhilarating collection. Exploring the languages of anatomy, etymology and incantation, these poems craft conversations about fracture and repair, energy, love and danger. '  (Publication summary)

Notes

  • Dedication: for Kate Loneragan

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Works about this Work

[Review] Shastra Deo, The Agonist Suzie Gibson , 2018 single work review
— Appears in: Queensland Review , December vol. 25 no. 2 2018; (p. 328-330)

— Review of The Agonist Shastra Deo , 2017 selected work poetry
Review Short : Shastra Deo’s The Agonist Paul Hetherington , 2018 single work review
— Appears in: Cordite Poetry Review , 1 May no. 86 2018;

'Shastra Deo’s first volume of poetry, The Agonist contains many poems about corporeal life, and about the separation of bodies, problematising the connections between body and thought. The poems often turn the inside out, as it were, opening up a poetic anatomy of internal organs and interior life. They dwell periodically on in-between states – to some extent symbolised by skin, space and emptiness – and they persistently return to tropes of rupture and penetration. As they explore such territory, they tend to alienate usual notions of humanity, asking the reader to consider whether their mind/body assumptions hold true – and intimacy itself is sometimes viewed askance through such perspectives, as in the lines: ‘You may be forgiven/ for thinking that love/ is a butcher’s ritual’. For Deo, it is not so much that the human body has a life all of its own, but that the flesh ‘speaks’, as it were, of human experience and human circumstance in lateral ways.'  (Introduction)

[Review Essay] The Agonist Alison Clifton , 2018 single work essay
— Appears in: StylusLit , March no. 3 2018;

'Shastra Deo’s almost preternaturally-accomplished début collection, The Agonist, winner of the 2016 Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize, displays the detailed delight of a masochistic forensic scientist poring over a copy of Gray’s Anatomy to find exactly which muscle, tendon, or ligament is causing their exquisite ache. Indeed, each of the three sequences that make up the cohesive collection is preceded by an illustration from this tome: vivisections of the heart and lungs, the hand, and the throat and mouth. Deo devotes her work to blood, bone, organ, and flesh, at times homing in on the reader’s carotid artery with vampiric precision; at others staking the reader’s heart as she takes on the converse role of Van Helsing. Although Deo’s work is not confessional, peopled as it is with a number of spectral speakers, the title may be read as eponymous: the agonist is the poet herself. “Agonist” means, variously, a muscle which contracts in order to move a part of the body directly, the protagonist of a literary work, and a person devoted to the study of agony.'  (Introduction)

Shastra Deo : The Agonist; Charlotte Guest : Soap Martin Duwell , 2017 single work essay
— Appears in: Australian Poetry Review , vol. 12 no. 2017;

'Shastra Deo’s poems seem to inhabit the same symbolic space. This makes The Agonist recall something like Galway Kinnell’s Book of Nightmares (though there may be much more recent and current examples outside the scope of my reading) despite the fact that the tone of the poems is much different. But you feel that there is a continuous symbolic landscape that the poems inhabit even though different poems occupy different parts of that landscape. Generally, the poems, as the title suggests, are about conflicts but these conflicts are never the clash of immovable objects or positions. An even more important principle in the mini-mythology Deo has created is that conflicts involve interpenetrations: these are poems where the border lines between one individual and another, or between an individual and the world are, if clearly defined, important sites of definition, mapping and change. Though many of the poems explore relationships between individuals, these are often people who have some sort of stake with each other, as lovers, brothers, parents and children.' (Introduction)

[Review] Shastra Deo, The Agonist Suzie Gibson , 2018 single work review
— Appears in: Queensland Review , December vol. 25 no. 2 2018; (p. 328-330)

— Review of The Agonist Shastra Deo , 2017 selected work poetry
Shastra Deo : The Agonist; Charlotte Guest : Soap Martin Duwell , 2017 single work essay
— Appears in: Australian Poetry Review , vol. 12 no. 2017;

'Shastra Deo’s poems seem to inhabit the same symbolic space. This makes The Agonist recall something like Galway Kinnell’s Book of Nightmares (though there may be much more recent and current examples outside the scope of my reading) despite the fact that the tone of the poems is much different. But you feel that there is a continuous symbolic landscape that the poems inhabit even though different poems occupy different parts of that landscape. Generally, the poems, as the title suggests, are about conflicts but these conflicts are never the clash of immovable objects or positions. An even more important principle in the mini-mythology Deo has created is that conflicts involve interpenetrations: these are poems where the border lines between one individual and another, or between an individual and the world are, if clearly defined, important sites of definition, mapping and change. Though many of the poems explore relationships between individuals, these are often people who have some sort of stake with each other, as lovers, brothers, parents and children.' (Introduction)

[Review Essay] The Agonist Alison Clifton , 2018 single work essay
— Appears in: StylusLit , March no. 3 2018;

'Shastra Deo’s almost preternaturally-accomplished début collection, The Agonist, winner of the 2016 Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize, displays the detailed delight of a masochistic forensic scientist poring over a copy of Gray’s Anatomy to find exactly which muscle, tendon, or ligament is causing their exquisite ache. Indeed, each of the three sequences that make up the cohesive collection is preceded by an illustration from this tome: vivisections of the heart and lungs, the hand, and the throat and mouth. Deo devotes her work to blood, bone, organ, and flesh, at times homing in on the reader’s carotid artery with vampiric precision; at others staking the reader’s heart as she takes on the converse role of Van Helsing. Although Deo’s work is not confessional, peopled as it is with a number of spectral speakers, the title may be read as eponymous: the agonist is the poet herself. “Agonist” means, variously, a muscle which contracts in order to move a part of the body directly, the protagonist of a literary work, and a person devoted to the study of agony.'  (Introduction)

Review Short : Shastra Deo’s The Agonist Paul Hetherington , 2018 single work review
— Appears in: Cordite Poetry Review , 1 May no. 86 2018;

'Shastra Deo’s first volume of poetry, The Agonist contains many poems about corporeal life, and about the separation of bodies, problematising the connections between body and thought. The poems often turn the inside out, as it were, opening up a poetic anatomy of internal organs and interior life. They dwell periodically on in-between states – to some extent symbolised by skin, space and emptiness – and they persistently return to tropes of rupture and penetration. As they explore such territory, they tend to alienate usual notions of humanity, asking the reader to consider whether their mind/body assumptions hold true – and intimacy itself is sometimes viewed askance through such perspectives, as in the lines: ‘You may be forgiven/ for thinking that love/ is a butcher’s ritual’. For Deo, it is not so much that the human body has a life all of its own, but that the flesh ‘speaks’, as it were, of human experience and human circumstance in lateral ways.'  (Introduction)

Last amended 10 Jul 2018 09:06:16
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