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Des Cowley

Des Cowley

Des Cowley is former Principal Librarian at State Library Victoria, and author of The World of the Book, published by Melbourne University Press in 2007. He regularly publishes on music for Australian Book Review, Rhythms, Dingo, and other journals.

Des Cowley reviews 'Possibilities' by Herbie Hancock

May 2015, no. 371 29 April 2015
In the opening pages of his memoir, Herbie Hancock recounts an onstage episode in Stockholm in the mid-1960s, when he was playing with Miles Davis. In a few brief paragraphs, he sums up Davis’s genius as only a musician deeply conversant with his music could. It is this sort of privileged entrée into Hancock’s musical world that makes Possibilities a worthy addition to jazz literature. ... (read more)

Des Cowley reviews 'After Naptime' by Chris Edwards

April 2015, no. 370 30 March 2015
Chris Edwards is an enigmatic presence in Australian poetry. Part of a generation of poets who came of age in the 1970s, he co-edited the short-lived Beyond Poetry (1974–76) but then abandoned publication for many years. With the onset of a new millennium, he unexpectedly re-emerged, publishing a series of chapbooks that culminated in his first full-length collection, People of Earth (2011). If ... (read more)

Des Cowley reviews 'Axis, Book 1' by a.j. carruthers

March 2015, no. 369 02 March 2015
With Axis, his first full-length publication, a.j. carruthers explicitly aligns himself with the lineage of the long poem. It is a bold move, if we consider that the major exponents of the form, from Ezra Pound to Anne Waldman, had invariably produced significant bodies of work prior to embarking on their poetic marathons. But ambition is fundamental to the long poem, and Axis, comprising thirty-o ... (read more)

2014 Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival

ABR Arts 10 November 2014
There was a genuinely celebratory air to this year’s Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival, and why not, given that the Festival was marking its twenty-fifth birthday. When the city first hit upon jazz as the basis for a festival back in 1989 – a somewhat arbitrary decision, based on the fact that most other musical forms had already been snapped up – few could have predicted it would attain th ... (read more)

Des Cowley reviews 'Australian Poetry Journal', vol. 3 no. 2 edited by Bronwyn Lea

June–July 2014, no. 362 01 June 2014
My first encounter with concrete poetry came via Apollinaire’s Calligrammes (1918), specifically his eye-catching poem ‘Il Pleut’. With its gently cascading words falling down the page, it was immediately clear that the typographic arrangement of the poem was of far greater import than its semantic content. Although the term was not coined until the 1950s, concrete poetry draws upon traditi ... (read more)
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