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Unfolding tenderly and peppered with observational humour, Anxious in a Sweet Store is an intimate and insightful collection about the mind, about family, and about the beauty and complexity in daily life. Anna Jacobson lights up the dark. This gift of a book had me smiling and tearing up.”
– Ellen van Neerven
There’s no poet I know who can blend whimsy and catastrophe, casual visual eloquence and the gaps of memory loss, as persuasively as Anna Jacobson.
Anxious in a Sweet Store is disarmingly intimate and organic in its unaffected lyricism. Fearless in how it tackles medical and bureaucratic trauma, the poems also give ample space for celebrations of sweetness, dreams, the ballast of family, culture and poetry itself.
A bracing and grounding triumph.
– Andy Jackson.
If you spotted Anna Jacobson walking towards you, at a distance of say … 200 metres, in a large, sloping public park, near dusk, you’d see three figures. In the centre, the self, to the left a stencil-dayglo outline, brimming with LED colour. To the right another stencil-dark outline, its gravity exquisitely tailored, silent, as it vacuums up remaining light. Now standing in front of you, smiling, still, those figures have merged into the singular presence Anna is. Anxious in a Sweet Store has its sugar trail but it’s not always sweetness that lands on the tongue. Miniature torch on forehead, Anna sets off on a personal reconnaissance mission, cramming herself into vesicular spaces she is trying to escape from and find. Anna’s antecedent aunts might well be Stevie Smith and Mirka Mora. Anna’s words weigh themselves to the microgram. They analyse their handles with a Geiger counter for thought, the handles to open, the handles to let go, the handles to hang on to with the primary urge for survival. Anna’s drawings absorb the ideas they float within, her index finger a direct nib. As a reader, you will find your own sighs in egg cartons. When Anna offers to pass ‘the salt from my memory’, put some on your own. Stay for a while. You might even find a pair of ‘Corflute wings’ in your top pocket, for heading home.
– Nathan Shepherdson
In Anxious in a Sweet Store, Anna Jacobson shows us ways that people and objects play dress-ups to survive. These poems evoke music, mindfulness, muscle and imagination. They are levers, codes or keys, unlocking places with no answers, illuminating the strangeness of routine, the violence of compliance, and the necessity for consent. Ingredients can sing. Chairs can be unsupportive. Houses can sense. Roads can be rocky. The collection conjures both Yoko Ono’s enchanting optimism and Samuel Beckett’s existential I-can’t-go-on-I’ll-go-on. Anna dives into her memoir of memory loss, her eyes finding and naming, her hands collecting ticket stubs and deftly piecing her sweet particles together.
– Pascalle Burton
I got anxious writing this endorsement, avoiding putting these words down. A sign that the work before me deeply matters, the poet behind the work matters more, that the poetry is living well beyond its immediate devices and constraints. People do die in seclusion rooms. Anxiety can manifest and monster. Reclaiming memory and medication from institutions comes at a cost. Few people can write into the heart and head of the mental health/illness lived experience with such shared generosity, clarity and tender offerings of the humanity and humour underneath it all. Singing cakes. Found childhoods. Where horn begins and piano ends. Crumbed fish and sharks, ocean and mind. There are seats within these poems. Choose one, take off the weight of what a poem should be, the weight of a life lived on others terms, rest here a while. Waiting in this collection’s room is the wonder of waking life.
– David Stavanger
Anxious in a Sweet Store
About the Book:
Anxious in a Sweet Store is Anna Jacobson’s second illustrated poetry collection where the ‘sweet’, whimsical, humorous, and quirky is juxtaposed with the ‘anxious’ forces of mental illness within the disabling mental health ‘care’ system. Dip into this collection as you please, pick and choose, or devour the whole lot from start to finish. You are invited to take lessons in anxiety, play a French horn, learn how to photograph poets, and haunt a seclusion room in a psychiatric ward. Themes of food, family, dreams, and culture crystallise, while the poet’s mind is fizz bang sherbet on the tongue. Anxious in a Sweet Store is an inventive collection of poems that build and enrich each other across threads of music, anxiety, and observation from a writer who wants her voice heard so others feel less alone in their experiences.
About the Author:
Anna Jacobson is an award-winning writer and artist from Brisbane. Amnesia Findings (UQP, 2019) is her first full-length poetry collection, which won the 2018 Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize. In 2020 Anna won the Nillumbik Prize for Contemporary Writing and was awarded a Queensland Writers Fellowship. In 2018 she won the Queensland Premier’s Young Publishers and Writers Award. Her poetry chapbook The Last Postman (Vagabond Press, 2018) was published as part of the deciBel 3 series. She has been a finalist in the Brisbane Portrait Prize, Blake Art Prize and Marie Ellis Prize for Drawing. Her website is www.annajacobson.com.au.
Cover artwork: Anna Jacobson, Allsorts Adagio for Xylophone, 2022