The World Was Whole
Shortlisted for the 2020 NSW Premier's Literary Award for Non-fiction; longlisted for the 2019 Stella Prize and 2020 Nib Award for research
Our bodies and homes are our shelters, each one intimately a part of the other. But what about those who feel anxious, uncomfortable, unsettled? In The World Was Whole, Fiona Wright examines how we inhabit and remember the familiar spaces of our homes and suburbs, as we move through them and away from, devoting ourselves to the routines and rituals that make up our lives.
These affectingly personal essays consider how all-consuming the engagement with the ordinary can be, and how even small encounters and interactions can illuminate our lives. They are poetic and observant, and often funny, animated by curiosity and candour. Beneath them all lies the experience of chronic illness and its treatment, and the consideration of how this can reshape and reorder our assumptions about the world and our place within it.
Shortlisted for the 2018 Prime Minister's Literary Award
Many of the poems in Domestic Interior were written around the same time as Fiona Wright’s award-winning collection of essays Small Acts of Disappearance, and they share with that work her acute sensitivity to the details that build our everyday world, and hold us in thrall, in highly charged moments of emotional extremity. Anxiety lurks in domestic spaces, it inhabits the most ordinary objects, like a drill bit or a phone charger.
Wright walks us through the places where this drama unfolds, in shopping centres, cafes, hospitals and bedrooms, in the inner-city suburbs of Sydney where the poet now lives, and the south-west where she grew up, presenting them as sites of love as well as sadness, and succour and strength as well as unease.
Small Acts of Disappearance
Winner of the 2016 Nita B. Kibble Award & the 2016 QLD Literary Awards Non-Fiction Book Award; Shortlisted for the 2016 Stella Prize & the 2016 NSW Premier’s Literary Award for non-fiction.
Small Acts of Disappearance describes the author’s affliction with an eating disorder which begins in university, and escalates into life-threatening anorexia over the next ten years. Fiona Wright's her account of her illness is informed by a keen sense of its contradictions and deceptions, and by an awareness of the empowering effects of hunger, which is unsparing in its consideration of the author’s motives and actions. The essays combine travel writing, memoir and literary discussions of how writers like Christina Stead, Carmel Bird, Tim Winton, John Berryman and Louise Glück deal with anorexia and addiction; together with accounts of family life, the observation of detail and the humour which is so compelling in Wright’s poetry.
Winner of the 2012 Dame Mary Gilmore Award for a first collection of poetry.
The poems in Knuckled are themselves bony and assertive, stripped down to the detail, which appeals in its physical quality and the manner in which it is offered, as much as in its compression of feeling. There is a strong sense of the social in Wright’s focus and selection: her details embody attitudes, prejudices, anxieties, identifications; they evoke the histories and mythologies embedded in family lore; and they carry an awareness of belonging in place.
It is the suburbs of Western Sydney, where the poet grew up and now works, that is her particular territory, with its mixture of voices and perspectives rendered all the more intensely for the fact that it is done with such a strict economy of means.