Located in the Blue Mountains southwest of Sydney, the Blue Plateau is a contrary collection of canyons and creeks, cow paddocks and eucalyptus forests, the first people and ranchers. This book reveals the plateau through its inhabitants: the Gundungurra people who were there first and still remain; the Maxwell family, who tried, but failed, to tame the land; the affable, impoverished, often drunken ranchers and firefighters; and the author himself, a poet trying to insinuate his citified self into a ...
Located in the Blue Mountains southwest of Sydney, the Blue Plateau is a contrary collection of canyons and creeks, cow paddocks and eucalyptus forests, the first people and ranchers. This book reveals the plateau through its inhabitants: the Gundungurra people who were there first and still remain; the Maxwell family, who tried, but failed, to tame the land; the affable, impoverished, often drunken ranchers and firefighters; and the author himself, a poet trying to insinuate his citified self into a rugged landscape defined by drought, fire, and scarcity. Like the works of Peter Mathiessen, Barry Lopez, and William Least Heat-Moon, The Blue Plateau is a deep examination of place that transcends genre, incorporating poetry, people’s history, ecology, mythology, and memoir to reveal how humanity and nature intertwine to create a home. Elegiac and intimately composed, this vivid portrait of a rugged wilds expands readers’ sense of the place they call home.
In 1998, Tredinnick (A Place on Earth) traveled into Australia's Blue Mountains to delve into the lives and lithology of “a landscape profound with geology.” He occupies the fringes of the lives he delineates, which include families with roots in the 19th century and a mid-1980s Polish refugee eking it out in a world of drought and devastating fires. Excerpts from a local woman's laconic “twenty pocket diaries, each smaller than a pack of cigarettes” and taped conversations with chattier men lend balance to Tredinnick's alternating tones: metaphoric, meditative and occasionally textbookish. Evocative as Tredinnick's imagery often is, American readers would have been well served by some photographs of the dazzling waterfalls, the awesome crags and crevices, the unfamiliar plants and animals, even the devastating fires. Tredinnick's book requires patience; readers may find themselves in a temporal thicket as several pasts mingle with an elusive present (“I'm going to tell some stories here... and what connects them is my living for a time among them on a piece of ground where they all meet”). Absorbed slowly, as a pastoral “landscape of loss” and “experiment in seeing and listening,” the book richly rewards that patience. (Oct.)
Historical reflection and meditative celebration of a plateau in Australia's Blue Mountains. "This book is an act of wondering and guesswork about the life of a piece of country," writes Australian poet and writing instructor Tredinnick (Writing Well, 2008, etc.). The author makes some serious headway toward understanding as he takes the measure of the plateau and two of its valleys, Kanimbla and Kedumba. "The plateau is a slab of sandstone laid down by rivers, solidified, dead, buried, and risen again, and crazed by time and subsequent streams," writes Tredinnick. Geology figures heavily in this study, as do the people who have found their own bit of paradise in this marginal land. Take Les, for example, a denizen of Kedumba, who loved the valley, "but didn't spend too much time liking it. Les was in the valley the way the weather was . . . The way the light is in the air." The author offers many moments of lovely, compressed reflection, though he occasionally gets lost in wordplay-the plateau "turned itself into itself . . . by ceasing to be what it was"; "Home is the sayer and the said and above all it is the saying." On the whole, however, Tredinnick's snapshots convey an intuitive, emotional heft. The author is also a crack natural historian who knows a brumby from a bullock, out there in the scribbly gum and hanging swamps. Tredinnick may not have been born in one of the valleys' huts, but you would never know it from his elemental intimacy.
Mark Tredinnick is a poet, essayist, and writing teacher living in Burradoo, the highlands outside of Sydney in Australia’s southeast region. His books, focused alternately on writing, landscape, justice, and ecology, have been distributed and sold in Australia, the United States, and throughout the United Kingdom.
Mark’s writing has appeared in Best Australian Essays, Island, Manoa, Mascara, Orion, PAN, Southerly. He wrote regularly for The Bulletin, one of Australia's premier news magazines, prior to its recent closing. Mark’s honors include the Newcastle Poetry Prize (2007), the Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize (2005) and the Wildcare Nature Writing Prize (2005), and residencies with the Pacific Writers’ Network (Hawaii), the Island Institute (Sitka, Alaska), and the Camden Haven Pilot Station. Mark lectures and teaches widely on writing, landscape, justice and ecology. For over a decade, he has run writing programs at the University of Sydney and at writers’ centers in Australia and the United States.