Chat rooms and identity: brb: a verse novel, by Maree Dawes



Brb: be right back

A Verse Novel

By Maree Dawes

109 pages

Thank you to Bronwyn Mehan at Spineless Wonders for this e-book copy.

Brb is a first person verse novel that remembers the days when chatting on the internet was new, when chatters revelled in immediate, words-only, communication. Remember ICQ?

I hadn’t read any verse novels before, I know, shame on me, but I’ve had a quick look around and I’m glad this is my first foray. Brb captures that immediacy and quick-fire fast-fingers-chat with a luscious blend of prose and poetry. It uses online language like email and chat talk to take the reader, with ‘Bodicea’ our protagonist, as she stumbles and learns how to use chat rooms and falls so deeply into that world of other chatters and painful trysts where she is forced to question her actions, and her  identity:  what is adultery? Who is she really as she straddles both her worlds?

Her friend and husband take measures to draw her out again back into her lonely life as wife and mother where she almost has to relearn how to live and love and communicate in a life not governed by the fantasy created by words. (Funny, in this instance, how easily it is to turn ‘word’ into ‘sword’.)

 Think again

She says

You’ll never feel that in chat

Never see my eyes fill

Never taste our tears

In the ocean

This is what she believes

Chat is fantasy

How many times

Would she need to slap my face

Before I believed it too

She won’t be able to I know

One slap

All she can do

The nowords space

Between the slap

And wishing

You never had.

pg 97

Brb is a fascinating, fun, and sad portrayal of a lonely housewife trek into nineties chat-rooms. I love the use of chat-room language, the phrases, short-hand and email, and yes, I do remember chat-rooms. What a wonderful portrayal of the era that was the dawning of the complex use of our lovely internet!

The Spineless Wonders Book club will be chatting about this book on March 13 on their face book page.



three ribbons
pink blue green
a different colour for each day

a white blouse
never be named a shirt
a grey woollen skirt or two

nude stockings
never a tear
court shoes black white or blue

no temper
no emotion or sign of
never hurry never late

my friend
my room mate
with the spicy wild red hair.


Finally Calm After One

It is the night that brings it on

late, perhaps late, after one
one reason, acceptance
the end of the day
nothing more can be done

Daylight is wavering
I won’t accept a current state
nothing is set in concrete
love is
none too late

No reason or ration,
I have a soul that flies
hurry hurry
catch him before he lies
catch him before we both die

the night brings hope, calmness
while the world sleeps
stragglers will catch up in the early hours
but none will get ahead
my mind can rest

it is the night that brings it on


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