Book Review — Devil in the Wind: Voices from the 2009 Black Saturday Bush Fires, by Frank Prem

Devil in the Wind: Voices from the 2009 Black Saturday Bush Fires,” is a book of poetry by Australian poet, Frank Prem, about horrific wildfires across the Australian state of Victoria in 2009. The preface includes descriptions of the physical and trauma effects in the victims’ own words. As the book moves along, the poems describe in graphic and statistical detail the scope of the damage to people, places, and things during the fires.

Much of the format of Frank’s poetry is stream of consciousness, as expressed from various perspectives, including rescue personnel, those manning the fire watch towers, those who outwitted death, the loved ones of those who didn’t survive, and witnesses of horrific pain and suffering. Frank effectively captures the angst and dread of being trapped in what amounts to a living hell for every living thing trapped in a million acres burning.

About twenty percent at the end of the book relates the lingering affects of the trauma after the fires were gone. It talks about survivors returning to their properties, cities existing only as coordinates on a map, and children struggling to get beyond what they experienced during the fires. It is difficult to read what the fire investigation reveals.

Although the book is finished, Frank continues to learn of others’ stories in connection with the fires. He says, “and perhaps it [capturing the stories] must go on to ensure we remember to ensure survivors can still tell their tales and to ensure there is a place of safekeeping a refuge for these stories forged in hell.” –Frank Prem. Devil in the Wind (Kindle Locations 1677-1683). Wild Arancini Press.

Standout poems for me were, “like a duck on a lake,” “portraits in green and gold,” “the strength of a truckie,” ”kinglake still,” and “old man roo returns.”

Final impressions: While, and after, reading Frank’s poems, the many haunting images contained within the poems add up to a profound impact on me as the reader. What Frank says about “ensur[ing] there is a place of safekeeping… for these stories forged in hell” is both noble and vital. The scribes preserve precious realities that link us to what it means to be sentient creatures on planet earth. It’s important for humans, now and in the future, to remember these stories.


8 Comments Add yours

  1. Frank Prem says:

    Such a reviewer, Jade!

    Thank you. I feel humbled by the power of the words that readers themselves use in relation to this work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      You are very welcome, Frank. The work inspired me, it’s true.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. msjadeli says:

      Frank I tried to post this at amazon but they said the book wasn’t released yet and I couldn’t leave one. Let me know when it’s released and I will post it there, ok?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Frank Prem says:

        Sorry about that Jade. It is because the book is printed by Ingram Sparks. I’ll get the ebook listed as soon as I can and let you know when it is available.

        Amazon are a bit picky.

        Thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. msjadeli says:

          OK, you are welcome.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Frank Prem says:

    Reblogged this on Frank Prem Poetry and commented:
    Ms Jade Li from Tao Talk has this to say about Devil In The Wind.

    Thank you, Ms Jade.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      You are very welcome, Frank.

      Liked by 1 person

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