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Being a Successful Swan

Being a Successful Swan – Social Media From a Poet’s Perspective
Contact: Mary McCallum 04 3844222 • 027 600 3313 •
High-res author and cover images are at:

Being a successful swan is how art photographer and poet Mary Macpherson describes living the digital life. In her new collection of poems called Social Media, this engaging image is one of a number of ways she attempts to come to grips with the technology-driven world of social media and the way we form our identities in and around it.

For a while, living a digital life was like being
a successful swan. Dignified gliding over the lake
like you understood the way the world worked,
the world being hard bright stones at the bottom
of the lake and you on the surface, held up.
extract from Social Media (The Cuba Press)

We often think of ourselves as formed from our core values or our DNA, but Macpherson wonders if in fact our identities are composites of the interactions we have with others: friends, family and the wider world, and she is interested in the evolving role technology plays in this. Social Media is playful and provocative, drilling into both our social and our media selves, using elements from short stories, art projects and films.

‘What I’ve loved about writing these poems,’ says Macpherson, ‘is the chance to invent fictional characters and deliberately explore themes such as how much our identities are bound up in each other. While photographs do deal in metaphor and symbols, writing provides extra freedom for your imagination.’

‘I like to explore how people react off each other,’ she says. ‘It’s been an exciting opportunity to try out different voices.’

Mary Macpherson has published poems in various literary journals, has had two poems highly commended in the recent Caselberg Trust International Poetry Prize, and was one of four authors in a collection called Millionaire’s Shortbread, but this is her first solo collection.

‘I’ve always written poetry, alongside my practice as an art photographer, unable to put either one aside for fear of losing it. This year it’s the turn of the poems to come into the world.’

Macpherson is a member of a collective of women poets called Meow Gurrrls, some of whom supported her with readings at her launch at Unity Books. They are: Abra Sandi King, Mary-Jane Duffy, Rewa Morgan and Sudha Rao. Macpherson’s reading at the launch can be found on their YouTube channel.

Mary Macpherson will be appearing at Verb Wellington events in November and her book is available at VicBooks, Unity Books and can be ordered through all good bookstores nationwide. ISBN 978-1-98-859504-7


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