Wednesday 15 June 2022


Where? by Jordan Collins, illustrated by Phil Lesnie (Allen & Unwin) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN 9781760526382

Reviewed by Kathleen Grace

The author of this text is African American Greek-Australian, who, in his youth, was constantly asked ‘Where are you from?’ Frustrated at having to explain himself, Collins worked for years on a poem which answered the question people asked because of his dark skin and curly hair. 

When he was 14, he performed the slam poem at the 2015 Poets’ Picnic in Sydney, a large-scale outdoor poetry event. In the audience was a publishing representative from Allen & Unwin, and this picture book, over seven years later, is the result.

This large hardback is exquisitely illustrated by highly acclaimed illustrator, Phil Lesnie whose mother is Filipino. Lesnie believes that although the details of his and Collins’ background are different, they share the experience of being asked frequently where they are from. The text is indeed poetic, but its readers – aged 8 to 12 years – might have some problems with some complex language, but the poem’s passion ought to capture their interest. 

Collins writes: ‘You see skin and I see supernovas. /You see hair and I see nebulae. /I’m from the same place as you.’

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