Collection of poems. Winner of the 2017-18 Noel Rowe Poetry Award. Winner of the 2020 Mary Gilmore Award, for the best first book of poetry published in Australia in 2019. Available from Vagabond Press as a paperback, or a limited edition hardback.
Thom Sullivan’s debut collection of poems, CARTE BLANCHE, traverses the exactitudes of place and time – from a distinctively Australian suburbia, to farming landscapes in South Australia’s Mount Lofty Ranges, to Australia’s renowned Great Ocean Road, and the interior terrains of consciousness and perception. The poems are memorable, succinct in their expression, precise in their effect, and notable for their innovative use of syntax and punctuation. Carte Blanche is a collection of poems that’s finely realised and keenly felt.
Praise for CARTE BLANCHE
‘Sullivan presents a sharp collection of quietly spoken poems dealing with the complexities of human relationships in a vanishing world. The manuscript has considerable formal variety from spoken interior monologues and reflections to a series of imagistic notations. It also demonstrates a thoughtful and exciting use of punctuation and syntax.’ NOEL ROWE POETRY AWARD’S JUDGES’ REPORT
‘Carte Blanche is an arresting calling-card, and – for me – it is one of this year’s most exciting poetic débuts.’ DAVID MCCOOEY, AUSTRALIAN BOOK REVIEW
‘It’s satisfying to observe that the sophistication and idiosyncratic uniqueness of Thom Sullivan’s Carte Blanche have recently been recognised by the judges of the 2020 Mary Gilmore Award for the best first book of poetry in Australia last year.’ GEOFF PAGE, THE CANBERRA TIMES
‘Thom Sullivan’s Carte Blanche is a book of thresholds, of glimpses into the everyday and what the everyday sometimes hides. His liminal moments are often marked by discontent with how things are or with how quickly they pass, yet, equally, they are enriched by what is seen or half-seen over the borders of time, place, and perception. This is a volume of fine registrations of the world we share, a volume of ‘companionable words’.’ KEVIN HART
‘Carte Blanche, by its very title, welcomes the reader honestly yet artfully in; in to lucidly thought-through poems which balance virtuosity and spontaneity, sense and intellect. These are poems of a swift and convincing trajectory with a feeling for nature as well as human nature and a sense of their interactions and interconnections; parallels between land and psyche are suggested in metaphors that elide the scene observed and the human observer. In these finely distilled poems, Thom Sullivan reflects upon the complexities of human relationships and their part in the hidden, the ambivalent and the silent. He also clearly relishes the things and deeds of the world, and celebrates them with tenderness, irony, and succinct humour.’ JAN OWEN
‘Thom Sullivan’s debut collection crosses thresholds and explores country, negotiates paddocks populated with cattle, sheep, kangaroos and birdsong, passes through small country towns in South Australia and Western Victoria. Sullivan carefully observes both landscape and culture, developing a unique pastoral that merges with suburbia and engages with a range of visual, musical and literary inspirations, from Degas and Warhol to Miles Davis, Sufjan Stevens and Paul Muldoon. The poems in Carte Blanche employ a cosmopolitan sensibility and experimental poetics, playing with form, structure, language and meaning, even interrogating the function of poetry itself. Sullivan packs the beautifully lyrical poems in Carte Blanche with brilliant metaphors and similes, parataxis and juxtaposition, surprising insights, and a masterful combination of abstract and concrete language to produce a stunning debut collection.’ NATHANAEL O’REILLY
‘Few books published in Australia in recent years have given me as much pleasure as Carte Blanche. Sullivan combines an attentive ear, precise and stylish diction, a sharp eye, and the restless energy of invention – and a reader is convicted by the poet’s authenticity, his joy in experiment. This is a remarkable debut that shows Sullivan to be among the best of Australia’s young poets.’ AIDAN COLEMAN
‘THE INFINITE DIRT’
Anthology, published 2014.
The Infinite Dirt, edited by Jelena Dinic, Gareth Roi Jones and Thom Sullivan, presents the most outstanding poems from the thirty-eighth year of Friendly Street Poets, Australia’s longest running open-mic poetry reading community. ‘The anthology digs deep into the preoccupations of South Australia’s poets, from the ground surface right down to what TS Eliot called ‘the deeper, unnamed feelings which form the substratum of our being.”
‘LIGHT AND GLORIE’
Anthology, published 2012 (available from Amazon).
In 2012, Thom Sullivan and Aidan Coleman invited South Australian poets to write about the renowned stained glass in St. Bart’s Church, Norwood, one of Adelaide’s oldest churches. Many of South Australia’s – and Australia’s – finest poets took up the challenge. Light & Glorie, an anthology edited by Sullivan and Coleman, showcases the new work written in response to the windows. The poems – ranging from devotional to sceptical, from detailed to digressive, from the personal and aesthetic to the historical – are part of a long literary tradition of writing about works of art. The project culminated in the publication of the anthology, and a reading at which poets read alongside the windows.
- Reflections on the project’s 5 year anniversary, 2017 (Facebook)
- News.com.au article
- Radio Adelaide interview
- ABC Radio National ‘The Spirit of Things’ podcast, with images of the windows
- Robert Rath’s photos of the reading
Short collection of poems, published 2009 (out of print).
Sullivan, Thom, 2009, Airborne, in Emmett, ML, Hardy, R & Sullivan, T, 2009, New Poets 14, ed. C Black, Wakefield.
Praise for AIRBORNE
‘This collection demonstrates a control that is sure but not rigid, that reveals itself only as formal grace. The poems are memorable: their imagery stays with us, their pacing and ordering are remembered for delivering an experience that the reader feels sharply.’ KEN BOLTON