This is a tale you can read three ways. The first time through, it’s the story of a woman who takes one glance at conventional early-twentieth-century life, and throws in her lot with art instead.
The second time, you might ask yourself if this woman is based on any particular artist of the inter-war period, and you’d be right to wonder – though this is no work of scholarly biography. A line connects the historical to the here-and-now, but it’s feathered and soft.
Third time reading, find the point where memoir and imagination connect. Now You Can Look.
‘Beginning with her childhood and taking us on a sensory and emotive journey through adolescence and onwards to her role as a wife and mother, Julia’s poems sparkle with wit, intrigue and richly captivating imagery. ‘ – Caitlin Miller, Irisi Magazine
‘In such images, Bird’s poetry shows how artwork is not separate to everyday life, but entwined with it – and, moreover, bound up with its transience: in these poems, omelettes, snowmen, marrows are all short-lived moments of artistic beauty.’ – Jonathan Taylor, Everybody’s Reviewing
‘This deftly composed poem sequence, paired with Anna Vaivare’s vibrant illustrations, moves through the life of a female artist during the early part of the twentieth century. Beginning from age nine, towards and past the point where the unnamed artist has a child of her own, Now You Can Look has a sharp, immediate quality which pulls you firmly into a life which both did and did not exist – vanished, imagined, or perhaps something else.’ – PBS Bulletin