Title: how to make a basket
Author: Jazz Money
Published: 31st of August 2021
Jazz Money’s debut book how to make a basket is a beautiful exploration of love, identity, history, and time through poetry and verse. Money is a poet and artist of Wiradjuri heritage who confidently explores her self-image in colonised Australian society. Every poem gives an intimate insight into Money’s identity: loving, strong, and Blak. how to make a basket is a celebration of love, queerness, strength, Indigenous Culture, Language, and tradition.
There is a tenderness in Money’s art that makes me feel like I am reading something very special and intimate. Poems like ‘redbellyblacksnake,’ ‘touchable,’ ‘heaven sent,’ and ‘the space between the paperbark,’ all speak of love, sex, and devotion and are incredibly emotive. I feel like I am reading Money’s diary or she’s read mine; she perfectly captures how it feels to love. The person to whom Money is often writing to is her “almost wife,” as Money so-lovingly pens, and every time she does write to, or about, her almost wife it is a beautiful celebration of their love for each other as a queer couple.
Another beautiful part of this collectionis the visual aesthetics combined with Money’s writing; the cover, the use of both Wiradjuri language and English, and how each poem looks on the page. I love a beautiful cover, something that UQP always delivers, and how to make a basket is no exception. The simplicity of the seed-like geometric shapes filled with the photographs of grain and coupled with the lower-case title are a flawless complement to the author’s clear and purposeful writing. I also love the seamless combination of different languages in a text, achieved here as Money’s poetry is written in both Wiradjuri Language and in English. Some poems are rotated on the page, some are in a rectangular ladder shape, others wind across the page like a pillar of smoke, and sometimes there are even stars printed on the page with numbers. Every turn of the page brings something new without a feeling of randomness or chaos.
A continuous tone throughout how to make a basket is the ongoing tensions and perseverance of First Nations people existing in colonial Australia. Money’s poems can be seen as an act of resistance—keeping Wiradjuri Language and memories alive in a society that clings to and celebrates its colonial past and present. With each collection like how to make a basket, First Nations peoples are celebrated and understanding and respect is being fostered in readers. how to make a basket is an exceptional debut and I cannot wait to read more of Money’s work in the future!