In this serious, often playful, sometimes outrageous volume, Murray draws inspiration from contemporary women’s experimental poetics. The collection recognises female writers’ equivocal relation to forms of the linguistic avant-garde such as L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry, and brings embodiment and affective voicing back into the provocative equation. Yet, this is not a simple return to lyric intimacy. Murray inflects poetry’s familiar inner speech with the sounds and shapes of found materials and engaging cultural noise. In Otherwise Occupied, the seamlessness of the beautiful, expressive poem becomes otherwise under the innovative necessity of the page as an open field of multiple (mis)takes and (mis)givings. Here, a poem is a space of enactment, a process of thinking-writing and performative exploration: idea ↔ body, lyric ↔ language, innovative necessity ↔ enduring convention. And in the end: there is no subject outside language.
Sally Ann Murray is Chair of the English Department at Stellenbosch University. She has an MA (cum laude) and a PhD from the University of Natal, Durban. Her novel, Small Moving Parts (Kwela, 2009), won the 2013 UKZN Book Prize, the 2010 M-Net Literary Award for Best Novel in English, and the 2010 Herman Charles Bosman Prize for Best Publication Media 24. It was also shortlisted for the University of Johannesburg Prize (2010), and the Sunday Times Fiction Prize (2010). She was the recipient of the 1991 Sanlam Award for Literature (Poetry) and the 1989 Arthur Nortje/Vita Award for poetry. Her poems have recently been published in poetry journals Aerodrome and Five Points, and in The New Century of South African Poetry (Jonathan Ball, 2018). Otherwise Occupied is her third poetry volume, her previous collections being open season (HardPressd, 2006) and Shifting (Carrefour Press, 1992). She has also published short fiction, most recently in the Short. Sharp.Stories competition anthologies Incredible Journey (Mercury Books, 2015), Trade Secrets (Tattoo Press, 2017), and Instant Exposure (National Arts Festival, 2018).