Transported: tales of misfortune & roguery

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Brian Harrison-Lever, Transported: tales of misfortune & roguery, Forty South Publishing, 1 July 2017, 89pp., $20.00 (pbk), ISBN 9780648028659

Transported: tales of misfortune & roguery explores the history of Australian convicts in poetry form. The poems are not intended as factual accounts, but rather provide a glimpse into the lives of the unfortunate ‘felons’ who were shipped south.

Occasionally, the scanning of the poetry is a little awkward, but it does create a feeling of England, and is often it is delightful: take ‘Stanley Smogg, Pick Pocket, Age 12’, for example:

                ‘The city streets had been my home, I never had a proper,

                ‘I’d fed myself and everfing and never came a cropper.

                ‘They taught me fings, the streets they did, they made me very clever,

                ‘Like how to nick a bob or two then beat-it hell-for-leather.’

Harrison-Lever’s sketches are well done. His choice of black and white emphasises the grubbiness of London’s streets, the unwashed people packed together, the chains, the odd rat and the feeling of overwhelming despair. There is also a feeling of movement in his illustrations showing wind blowing people’s hair and clothes about.

The glossary at the back is also very useful: it’s interesting to see how language has changed over the years.

Harrison-Lever taught design and drawing at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. He has illustrated a number of history books and in 2007 his book Three Kings was short listed for the Western Australian State Premier’s Award.

Transported: tales of misfortune & roguery is suitable for children aged eight to 13. Teaching notes can be found on the Forty South website.

Reviewed by Katy Gerner

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