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David McCooey

David McCooey is a prize-winning poet, critic, and editor. His latest collection of poems is The Book of Falling, published by Upswell Publishing (2023). His first collection, Blister Pack (2005), won the Mary Gilmore Award and was shortlisted for four major national literary awards. He is a professor of literature and writing at Deakin University in Geelong, where he lives. His website is:

David McCooey reviews 'The Kangaroo Farm' by Martin Harrison

February–March 1998, no. 198 01 February 1998
Martin Harrison’s attentive poetry must be read attentively: the snaking semi narratives move through the landscape as rivers finding their way. The tonal shifts and mixed modes are fundamental to this collection’s many middle-sized poems that are often (even more than in his previous book, The Distribution of Voice) both verse essay and lyric, as Kevin Hart has noted. Not that all this in its ... (read more)

'Poetry making something happen: The Festival of Perth’s Writers’ Week, 1989' by David McCooey

April 1989, no. 109 01 April 1989
In a suburban theatre somewhere in the most isolated capital city in the world, on an early Sunday morning, the Ambassador for Ireland, James Sharkey, was pouring three glasses of muscatel. This action, rather like the lighting of the Olympic flame, opened the 1989 Writers’ Week of the Festival of Perth. The presence of the Irish ambassador and the muscatel was accounted for by the first them ... (read more)

David McCooey reviews 'Taller When Prone' by Les Murray

April 2010, no. 320 01 April 2010
It is a critical truism, if not a cliché, that poetry estranges: it makes things strange, so that we can see the world and ourselves afresh. Defamiliarisation, the uncanny, even metaphor, are all fundamental to poetry’s estranging power. Unsurprisingly, madness, vision and love have also long been poetry’s intimates, each involving the radical reformation – or deformation – of ‘normal ... (read more)

David McCooey reviews 'The Lovemakers' by Alan Wearne

April 2001, no. 229 01 April 2001
A Geelong psychiatrist once asked someone very like me, ‘What’s the opposite of love?’ It was a bit like a question in a tutorial (psychiatrists and academics do have a thing or two in common). The answer, of course, couldn’t be so obvious as ‘hate’. It was ‘indifference’. This tableau could be from Alan Wearne’s pen, and indeed Wearne’s latest verse novel, The Lovemakers, is ... (read more)

David McCooey reviews 'Fast, Loose Beginnings: A memoir of intoxications' by John Kinsella

October 2006, no. 285 01 October 2006
John Kinsella’s new memoir, Fast, Loose Beginnings, may have been published by the august publishing house of Melbourne University Publishing, but it is nevertheless a garage-band of a book. It is, as its title signals, both fast and loose. Its rhythms aren’t always graceful, and its timbres aren’t always smooth. You can almost hear the hum of the amplifiers. The poet Jaya Savige, in his rev ... (read more)

David McCooey reviews 'Enfolded in the Wings of a Great Darkness' by Peter Boyle, 'The Lowlands of Moyne' by Brendan Ryan, and 'Carte Blanche' by Thom Sullivan

April 2020, no. 420 20 March 2020
Enfolded in the Wings of a Great Darkness by Peter Boyle Vagabond Press, $25 pb, 82 pp Peter Boyle’s Enfolded in the Wings of a Great Darkness is a book-length elegiac poem dedicated to his partner, the anthropologist Deborah Bird Rose (1946–2018). Unlike other works lamenting the illness and loss of a spouse, Boyle’s collection largely avoids representing the day-to-day demands of suf ... (read more)

David McCooey reviews 'The Song Remains the Same: 800 years of love songs, laments and lullabies' by Andrew Ford and Anni Heino

March 2020, no. 419 24 February 2020
In 1973, aged six, I heard the song ‘Rock On’ by David Essex. I was obsessed by its sound. While I couldn’t have put it into words, I half understood that the song was made sonically exciting not just through its inventive arrangement (a song about rock and roll with no guitars!) but also its production techniques, especially the use of reverb and delay to ‘stage’ the vocal and instrumen ... (read more)

David McCooey reviews 'The Lovemakers: Book two: Money and nothing' by Alan Wearne

May 2004, no. 261 01 May 2004
Alan Wearne’s The Lovemakers is a book about overdoing it. Its characters have unwise love affairs, dream foolish dreams, drink too much, engage in criminal activity, amass (and lose) vast wealth, and talk incessantly (usually about themselves). Wearne’s characters usually deal with obsession and with the places you get to in life if you overdo things. Few characters in this second part of Wea ... (read more)

David McCooey reviews 'The Australian Popular Songbook' by Alan Wearne

June 2008, no. 302 01 June 2008
Having spent two decades or more writing massive verse novels – The Nightmarkets (1986) and The Lovemakers (2001, 2004) – it may seem that Alan Wearne, with his latest book of poetry, The Australian Popular Songbook, has finally returned to smaller forms and, as suggested by the title, a more lyrical idiom. But, as always with Wearne’s work, things aren’t that simple. The smaller forms wer ... (read more)