About the author

Lucy Van

About the book

Judges' report

The Open is a prose poetry collection that explores the pressures of colonisation and capitalism, and the alienation and dislocation they engender.

Broken into four sections, Lucy Van’s poems speak independently and harmoniously. The motif of doors recurs throughout this collection, but as with all of Van’s imagery, the metaphor is always rich and multi-layered: the hinge of an apostrophe and its implications of possession and ownership, the swing of personal and political history, which interrupt each other and reveal the fallible nature of memory, the contradictions of privacy implied by the permeable boundary of a screen door. Van starts with the familiar, then accelerates and expands on its implications, always taking her reader to a fresh space in which to turn these ideas over in the mind again and again and find new meaning in them.

The back and forth of Van’s collection demonstrates gradually over time the burden of choice. Despite the speed of living that the ongoing colonial project demands, one is still left with the responsibility of making decisions about how to be and what meaning to make in the world. The Open invites an understanding that the privacy and vulnerability necessary in order to make these decisions is complex and fraught.

Further reading


“Van’s absolute strength is infusing small images with the emotions of decolonisation.” – Clare Millar, Readings online

“…as the title suggests – open, in both its honesty and its capacity to encourage and sustain readings from many angles of approach.” – Riley Faulds, Westerly

“Each book deserves a broad readership. Each beats back the lethargic thinking that has invaded society under the cover of the pandemic.” – Anders Villani, Australian Book Review


Read Merlinda Bobis’s introduction to The Open via Cordite Poetry Review

Read ‘5 Questions with Lucy Van’ via Liminal Mag

Listen to ‘Tell Me Like You Mean It: Lucy Van’ via the Emerging Writers’ Festival

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