Brook Emery’s Uncommon Light

Sleeve Notes: Brook Emery’s Uncommon Light

Brook Emery reads a selection of poems from his third collection of poetry Uncommon Light. In this wonderfully articulated selection, he delivers, with clear grace, a transcendent and philosophically acute depiction of the vivacity of the internal life. Recorded in May 2007 this reading by Brook Emery is a fine introduction to his work.

Uncommon Light is a sustained challenge to the distinction St Augustine draws between the common light of everyday awareness and the uncommon light of God’s omniscience: ‘the Light that made me’. It probes the ambiguities of perception, thought, belief & unbelief seeking to locate the transcendent within material & Darwinian bounds & to preserve lyric possibilities despite pervasive injustice. Its restless speculations grow from sharply ralised engagements with the phenomenal world.

Judges Comments from NSW Premiers Awards – Kenneth Slessor Prize Shortlist 2008:

In the course of a comparatively short time as a poet, Brook Emery has left a substantial mark on the Australian poetry community. This third collection has a number of familiarities – a strong physicality, the ever-present ocean and an intellectual rigour. This time he challenges St Augustine’s notion of common/uncommon light. While asserting ‘comprehension is in the slippage’, we are buffeted from Cyril being chucked out of the Rex Hotel to an extended and unflinching examination of the nature of Evil.

Emery is a master of the long poem and fearless imagery; this collection continues his comprehensive, often labyrinthine discourses … as always enriched with powerful language. Themes and images don’t just flare up and vanish … rather they are drawn out/reappear throughout the book building up to a more substantive and enduring impact.

Biographical Note

Brook Emery has worked as a swimming instructor, beach inspector, furniture removalist and contract cleaner. He has also been an English and History teacher in London, northern NSW and Sydney.

His first collection of poetry, and dug my fingers in the sand (Five Islands Press, 2000) won the Queensland Premier’s Prize and was short-listed for the NSW Premier’s Prize. It won second prize in both the Mary Gilmore Poetry Prize and the Anne Elder Award. His second collection, Misplaced Heart (Five Islands Press, 2003) was short-listed for the NSW Premier’s Prize.


  • 1. Epigraph 0′ 33″
  • 2. Very Like a Whale 2′ 28″
  • 3. Spring 1′ 19″
  • 4. Monster 1 2′ 11″
  • 5. Sunday: ‘(Everything can be) transformed’ 3′ 02″
  • 6. That beat against the cage 5′ 14″
  • 7. ‘Am I really the person who bears my name’ 4′ 01″
  • 8. Monster 2 1′ 42″
  • 9. Nevertheless also there 1′ 08″
  • 10. Making a presence 0′ 50″
  • 11. This disenchanted world 2′ 39″
  • 12. Monster 3 1′ 54″
  • 13. Story 1′ 26″
  • 14. Narcissus: ‘self-portrait with sea’ 2′ 30″
  • 15. Still Life with sun and figs 1′ 52″
  • 16. Half-glimpsed through water 1′ 12″
  • 17. Against immortality 1′ 11″
  • 18. Finches Perhaps 1′ 16″
  • 19. Monster 4 1′ 22″
  • 20. Spring is still spring (summer) 1′ 22″

This audio CD was recorded and produced by Carol Jenkins for the River Road Poetry Series.

The cover art, ‘The Promenade Light’, an oil pastel and brush pen on colour paper, is reproduced with kind permission of Nic Hollo.