Poems from Attempts at Being previously appeared in Winter 2002

For Alison's translations of Rainer Maria Rilke and essays appeared in Winter 2002.

Alison is the editor of Masthead


To order Attempts at Beingfrom bn.com by Alison Croggon

Attempts at Being was published by Salt Books. All rights reserved.



Alison is the Editor of Masthead Online

Attempts at Being

“Language” from Attempts at Being:
This of course has nothing to do with words which
may be hammered into atoms or dressed in tulle
whatever you like they will do what you say
obediently, biding their time.
They'll outlast you anyway.

How to bud into this world that makes you so lonely.
How to become pitiless enough
to see one singular thing.
How to murder the god in yourself
in order to discover an absence
you might believe in —
those sorts of questions—

and how the grammar of love
depends on the spaces and
those several others
who continually insist on the sky
and today it really is blue and white
and closer than any language.


Alison Croggon is one of a new generation of Australian poets which emerged in the 1990s. She writes in many genres. Her first book of poems, This is the Stone, won the 1991 Anne Elder and Dame Mary Gilmore Prizes. Her novel Navigatio, published by Black Pepper Press, was highly commended in the 1995 Australian/Vogel literary awards and is being translated for publication in France. Her second book of poems, The Blue Gate, was released in 1997 and was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier's Poetry Prize. A chapbook, Mnemosyne, was just published by Wild Honey Press. Penguin Books Australia will also bring out her first novel for young adults, The Gift, in 2002. Alison has written and had performed nine works for theatre. Her theatre work includes the operas Gauguin and The Burrow, both with Michael Smetanin, and the plays Lenz (Melbourne Festival 1996), Samarkand and The Famine. Many of her poems have been set to music by various composers, including Smetanin, Christine McCombe, and Margaret Legge-Wilkinson. Recently she was the 2000 Australia Council writer in residence at Cambridge University, UK. She was poetry editor for Overland Extra (1992), Modern Writing (1992-1994) and Voices (1996) and founding editor of the literary arts journal Masthead.