Join us to celebrate the launch of Empirical by Lisa Gorton. The collection of poetry will be launched by the artist Rebecca Mayo.


Thursday 15 August

Hill of Content Bookshop, Ground 86 Bourke Street, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 3000

Copies of Empirical will be for sale on the night, along with signings by the author.

Lisa Gorton began writing Empirical in 2014, when the Victorian government of the time signed a contract to cut an eight-lane motorway through the heart of Royal Park in Melbourne. Her walks in the park, brightly rendered in the book’s hallucinatory first sequence, seek to understand how the feeling for place originates, and how memory and landscape fold in and out of each other. This section concludes with ‘Royal Park’, a long poem that recreates the colonial history of the place through the gathering of fragments from newspapers, maps and pictures.

Then, in its second part, the collection makes a surprising pivot. It opens up into poems that meditate on the Venus de Milo, Rimbaud’s imperial panoramas, the making of Coleridge’s poem ‘Kubla Khan’, the exhibition galleries of Crystal Palace – tracking, through chains of influence and a phantasmagoric procession of images, the trade between empire, commodities and dreams of other places.Through this method, landscapes are mirrored and refracted in the contemporary baroque style for which Gorton is celebrated.


Lisa Gorton has a PhD on the poetry of John Donne from the University of Oxford. She is a poet and novelist, essayist and reviewer. Her first poetry collection Press Release won the Victorian Premier’s Award for Poetry; her second, Hotel Hyperion was awarded the Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal. Her novel The Life of Houses was the co-winner of the 2016 Prime Minister’s Award for Fiction. She is the author of Cloudland, a novel for children.


Rebecca Mayo is an Australian artist. She is a Lecturer in the Printmedia and Drawing Workshop at the School of Art & Design, Australian National University. Trained in printmaking, she draws upon its performative attributes of repetition and re-iteration. Mayo principally examines relations and interactions between urban ecologically significant sites and people. Most recently she has been reactivating superseded printing and dyeing techniques using dye extracted from plants gathered at urban restoration sites (such as her local creek, The Merri, in Melbourne’s north).