Quiet hook | Emilie Collyer

The publisher says ‘all you need is a hook’.

Hundreds of hungry writers scribble: ‘trauma’

⎯she doesn’t literally say trauma but it’s implied, a quiet

nod that to sell books there’s gotta be like a brilliant

pain to keep the pages turning, make it worth

a reader’s while, titillating flush.


This ticks all the boxes, it’s flush

with detail, let’s be frank sexual violence hooks

people that’s human nature, the market sets the worth.

Not saying it’s right but one person’s trauma

is a ‘Hey I need a book for the plane, brilliant

I’ve heard so much about, perfect way to fill quiet


hours’. Puritanical to say women should keep quiet

about their body life terrors, flush

feelings away, write anodyne tales. Maybe brilliance

comes at a price or maybe it’s a tired adjective hooked

on genius’ door, every person has a trauma

to tell but which ones accrue most worth.


Recall messy bedroom weekly session worth

$50 an hour, tutoring Bel in quiet

writing. Her car accident brain trauma

suspending her in teen fantasies of fame, flush

with effort to pen her story, use the hook

to write a best-selling work of brilliance.


What meaning in those afternoon sun brilliant

hours? In honesty little teaching of any worth

took place. No matter the stimulus her mind hooked

in small loop limits of logic, my fretting quiet,

was it a lie to encourage the flush

of hope: yes if she worked hard her trauma


shouldn’t stop chance of success. But trauma

of this kind isn’t brilliant.

Daily grind of a life that was flush

with youth and promise. Arrested. Worth

little to an agent publisher industry, the quiet

of ordinary tragedy no real hook.


Those hours flush with echoes of trauma

planted a hook about what we call brilliant,

the worth of diligence, pen to paper, writing quiet.







Emilie Collyer lives on Wurundjeri country, where she writes poetry, plays and prose. Her writing has appeared most recently in Rabbit, Australian Poetry Journal, Witness Performance and Cordite. Award-winning plays include Contest, Dream Home and The Good Girl. Emilie is currently undertaking a PhD in creative writing at RMIT.