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ABR Arts

Book of the Week


Circadia by Judith Bishop

In Poetry’s Knowing Ignorance, Joseph Acquisto borrows a definition of poetry from Phillipe Jaccottet: ‘that key that you must always keep on losing’. Attempting to know its subject, poetry reveals that there is always more to know. But the French poet’s metaphor, for Acquisto, does not mean ‘simple contingency’. It suggests ‘a complex play of certainty and doubt … that actively resists coming to a conclusion’. We might say that poetry expresses the friction in human experience between time and permanence.


Calibre Essays

From the Archive

May 2010, no. 321

Malcolm Fraser: The political memoirs by Malcolm Fraser and Margaret Simons

It is unusual for a political leader to figure in the demonology of both the left and the right. Malcolm Fraser bears that distinction. For Labor he was the arrogant Western District squire, trampling on the rights of the workers; the hardline Cold War warrior and the abuser of the constitution. For Liberals he was the leader who denied them their Thatcherite moment in the sun and who, embittered by early retirement, decried their principles and their hero, John Howard. These memoirs are, above all, Fraser’s repudiation of these mythologies. The book is a strange hybrid, Fraser’s response being mediated by the journalist and writer Margaret Simons into a third-person narrative. In modern times, only Charles de Gaulle has dared such effrontery.

From the Archive

October 2013, no. 355

Tony Coady reviews 'Why Priests?'

Garry Wills is a distinguished American historian whose writings over the past twenty years or so on the frailties of the Catholic Church, notably in such books as Papal Sin: Structures of Deceit (2000) and Why I Am a Catholic (2002), have provided stinging critiques of the institution to which he still steadfastly belongs. His new book, Why Priests? A Failed Tradition, continues the theme by rejecting the validity of the very idea of the Catholic priesthood. And if this is not sufficiently radical, Wills’s subversion of the priesthood also involves a critique of the doctrine of the Real Presenceof Christ in the Eucharist, the status of the sacraments, of mainstream accounts of the Atonement, and of the standing of Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews.

From the Archive

March 2012, no. 339

Outside by David McCooey

Philip Larkin at thirty-one asked ‘Where can we live but days?’ It shouldn’t take half a lifetime to learn that we have night and day, yet learning how to live with this arrangement, and that this is the arrangement, is something we keep adapting to all our lives. While not a dichotomy, night and day help form the dichotomous nature of our thinking, and inform especially the method of describing and explaining everything that we call poetry. David McCooey has taken this elementary fact as first principle in creating poetry that is by turns accepting and acerbic, buoyant and bothered, carefree and careful. Outside is divided into two studied sections, one coloured by day, the second by night.