Lisa Jacobson is the author of three books of poetry: Hair & skin & teeth (1995); The sunlit zone (2012), which won the Adelaide Festival John Bray Poetry Award and was shortlisted in four other national awards; and South in the world (2014). In 2011 she won the Bruce Dawe National Poetry Prize. She has worked extensively with survivors of the 2009 Victorian bushfires, also known as Black Saturday, to honour and document their stories. Her chapbook, The Asylum Poems, has just been published by IPSI, University of Canberra. She lives in Melbourne.

Out of the Darkness

Poetry, Memorial and the Black Saturday Bushfires

This paper looks at poetry as a response to the bushfires that devastated Victoria on February 7, 2009 and its capacity to ‘hold’ what cannot be said, and yet must be said, when no other language will do. In the disaster there is trauma and transformation. Yeats says it best: that out of the darkness a ‘terrible beauty’ is born (‘Easter, 1916’).