Picture of author.

About the Author

Inclui os nomes: Janine Burke, Ed. Janine Burke

Image credit: Courtesy of Allen & Unwin.

Obras por Janine Burke

Associated Works

The Penguin Century of Australian Stories (2000) — Contribuidor — 74 exemplares
The Blue Dress (1991) — Autor — 23 exemplares
The Best Australian Essays 2005 (2005) — Contribuidor — 17 exemplares


Conhecimento Comum



My Forests: Travels with Trees is an exquisite book. It's been my companion for a week, reading one or two essays each day, and I'm sorry to have come to the end of it.

It's beautifully produced, comparable with books that come from the Folio Society. The hardback cover design by Pfisterer + Freeman is graced by gilt leaves superimposed over the bark of a gum tree; the end papers are eucalyptus green; each new chapter is designated by a full page colour background image of bark; and, typeset in Bembo 12/15pt, the papers feel soft and silky in the hand. It would make a beautiful gift, but you'd need to be strong-minded not to keep it for yourself.

Contrary to my expectations of a book about forests, the book begins in Elwood, a beachside suburb of Melbourne. I know it well because I used to live above the Turtle Café on the corner of Glenhuntly and Ormond Rds. (If interested, look here: the near turret was our sitting-room, the rear turret was the kitchen from which we could see the sea, and the left hand window was our bedroom. We loved the bustle of the street life below us, and only moved when The Offspring needed a garden to rampage around in.)

Despite development, Elwood remains green to this day:
When you turn into Elwood from the Nepean Highway, you are embraced by green: the parks and the ovals entwine in flowing emerald arcs like large, protective gestures. It's like living in a nature reserve. The trees assist in giving Elwood its decidedly feminine air, its gentle, verdant appeal. Elwood is inhabited by a wide variety of trees: Eucalypts as well as Wattle, Bottlebrush, Ti-tree, Banksia, Apple, Sheoak, Moreton Bay Fig, Jacaranda, Pine, Ash, Peppercorn, Cypress, Date Palm, Silver Birch, Elm and London Plane. (p.4)

The Yaluk-ut Weelam ('river people') of the Boonwurrug clans used to camp on the Point Ormond bluff which looks across to the You-Yangs near Geelong. When Thomas Clark painted it in c1860, (see here) much of Elwood was swampland and there was an abundance of ducks, eels, tortoises, frogs, fish, shellfish, kangaroos and emus to hunt and harvest.
Several of Elwood's mighty Eucalypts, the sentinels of the suburb, grew along the wetland's higher ground and flourish still. Drooping Sheoaks (Allocasuarina verticillata) provided timber needed for hunting implements and weapons. Today, sheltered behind Point Ormond are many original plant species including Sea Box (Alyxia buxifolia), White Correa (Correa alba) and Coastal Daisy Bush (Olearia axillaris), flourishing reminders of the Yaluk-ut Weelam's reign.

Ironically, it was the expert land management practised by Aboriginal people that made it so attractive to property-hungry settlers. (p.6)

The chapter goes on to record the leadership of Derrimut, who not only warned the infamous Batman that other Aboriginal clans were preparing to attack him and his men, he also tried to save Batman's son from drowning. By 1857 when the Boonwurring and the Woi Wurrung population had been reduced to only twenty-eight people, they had been moved on further down the bay to Mordialloc, from where they would be shunted onwards as settlement extended all over Port Phillip. Derrimut confronted William Thomas, the (so-called) Protector of the Aborigines of Port Phillip, and asked him why 'white man take away Mordialloc where black fellows always sit down?'

From sharing aspects of her local area's history and ambience, Burke goes on to write some of the best essays I've read this year. 'Women of the Banyan' is chastening reading... what begins with a Hindu religious rite under India's national tree the banyan, becomes a shocking exposé of appalling cruelty in modern India.

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2021/09/11/my-forests-travels-with-trees-by-janine-burk...
… (mais)
anzlitlovers | Sep 10, 2021 |
Some lovely descriptions ( and photos) of birds and their nests but overall this is quite disjointed, jumping from biology to poetry to existentialism and back again.
siri51 | 1 outra crítica | Mar 11, 2021 |
Author Janine Burke immediately lowers expectations with her first words in Nest: The Art of Birds: "I am a very amateur naturalist." She is trained as an art historian, and her unease at tackling a subject outside her area of expertise, though perhaps tangentially related, is evident throughout the book via sporadic apologies and self-deprecating remarks. I thought the opening statement endearing and appropriately honest, but the subsequent self-consciousness distracting.

That said, Burke is a fine writer and she clearly conveys her love of nature. But the premise of the book, that bird nests are art, is rather thin. Yes, bird nests show great craftsmanship (and in the case of the male bowerbird, remarkable decorative instincts), which indeed can be considered art. And from there, significant padding is required in its exposition to fill out this short book.

Though this is a lightweight work by any measure, there are some simple pleasures to be enjoyed within. Highlights are the discussion of the aforementioned male bowerbird and its elaborate bower meticulously designed to attract a mate; analysis of nest construction, preservation, and museum display; and her own personal observations of bird nests and behavior (much more impactful than most of the observations she relates second-hand). On the downside, the chapter on poetry and literature inspired by bird nests seems forced, and the point at which the author appears most uncomfortable.
… (mais)
ghr4 | 1 outra crítica | Nov 9, 2017 |


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