Royal Jelly
A collection of poetry
by Matthew Hall
Black Rider presents Lyrics 3

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What they’re saying

"Matthew Hall's striking poem revives what was, at lest until the birth of prose fiction, the raison d'être of poetry: profound, unsettling mystery. This is a poem that does not only inventively weave in motifs of beekeeping, Amerindian history, and ecology to produce a rich, multidimensional textual tapestry; it produces this powerful fusion of concepts and signifiers to trace and approach a radical, and very new, truth.

From the invocation of seasons in the Cree language of the Native Americans of Canada's Saskatchewan prairie province, to a deep engagement with the lexicon of botany, Royal Jelly seduces the reader with the mystery of a genuinely new understanding of the world. It is also, oddly for such a properly and unashamedly erudite post-avant poem, highly readable and musical.

“An important new work." - Ali Alizadeh

“A standout figure amongst Australia’s developing poets, Hall brings us an intriguing historical/archaeological picture of displacement & desecration amongst Native American tribes. His relentless, rich language serves well to superbly backlight a real empathy & passion.” - Les Wicks

“You’re taken and dropped, slap bang, in the middle of a very particular landscape by Matthew Hall’s Royal Jelly. Immediately we hear tree branches shaking in a storm. We walk a little way alongside a river. Looking up we see hawks swooping down after their prey. Further along, the smell of burnt fields becomes grimly unforgettable.

“Do you know this landscape? Do you not know it? It doesn’t matter really. It isn’t the specifics of a person’s surroundings which concern Hall; rather, it’s the cycles of change which affect those surroundings.

“At the heart of Royal Jelly is the idea of a cycle of birth, death and rebirth. Hall examines that in relation to nature and, as well, in relation to the people and animals which inhabit that nature.

“Royal Jelly is very earthy and elemental yet, at the same time, in its precision, it is suggestive of something like an item of crystal-cut glassware. Each word, the reader feels, has been carefully weighed and considered in all its connotations before being given its rightful place in the sequence.

“Early on, over successive lines ‘listen’ arrives at ‘distant’ by way of ‘listless’. Towards the end, Hall splits ‘inhalation’ into two words by the insertion of the word ‘ash’ after the first ‘n’: a brilliantly successful manoeuvre. We see the smoke that we would indeed be inhaling rising from that ash. We see, also, ‘inhalation’ as though for the first time; noticing, as we do, how similar the ‘at’ of ‘inhalation’ sounds to the earlier ‘ash’.

“This is serious poetry that matters. If that’s the sort of poetry you want to read you should read Royal Jelly.” – Richard Barrett