Andy Kissane's new collection

Andy Kissane's new collection


by Andy Kissane

Puncher & Wattmann, $25 pb, 78 pp, 9781922186522

Andy Kissane’s fourth collection, Radiance, is a heartening answer to those who, like publisher Stephen Matthews, lament that ‘many modern poets choose to shroud their work in point-scoring obscurity at a time when clarity and accessibility might encourage more people to read poetry’. Kissane doesn’t address this issue directly, but his book is an important negative instance.

The first virtue of Kissane’s poetry here is its empathy, which leads on to an important (though sometimes unfashionable) political dimension; the sonnet ‘Match Girls, 1888’ is a telling example. Two young sisters in a Dickensian match factory begin to notice what is happening to the other girls: the damaged jawbones and bleeding gums. The ending is disturbingly poignant: ‘One / mustn’t complain. Instead, she poked her sister / under the quilt and they laughed at their teeth – / glowing green and ghostly in the warm cave of the bed.’ Similar compassion and outrage can be found in a number of neighbouring poems, particularly ‘The Street Vendor’s Lament’, ‘The Child is Father of the Man’, and ‘The Smell of the Sea’. All deal with dangerous working conditions, and all make their point with technical subtlety and an absence of rhetoric.

Read the rest of this article by subscribing to ABR Online for as little as $10 a month.

We offer a range of subscription options, including print, which can be found by clicking here. If you are already a subscriber, enter your username and password in the ‘Log In’ section in the top right-hand corner of the screen.

If you require assistance, contact us or consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Published in August 2014, no. 363
Geoff Page

Geoff Page

Geoff Page is based in Canberra and has published twenty-three collections of poetry as well as two novels and five verse novels. His recent books include 1953 (UQP 2013), Improving the News (Pitt Street Poetry 2013), New Selected Poems (Puncher & Wattmann 2013), Aficionado: A Jazz Memoir (Picaro Press 2014), Gods and Uncles (Pitt Street Poetry 2015), Hard Horizons (Pitt Street Poetry 2017) and PLEVNA: A Verse Biography (UWA Publishing 2016). He also edited The Best Australian Poems 2014 and The Best Australian Poems 2015 (Black Inc). His Elegy for Emily: a verse biography is due out shortly from Puncher & Wattmann.

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.