University of Queensland Press

To the Islands by Randolph Stow & Tourmaline by Randolph Stow

by
December 2002-January 2003, no. 247

Before the age of thirty, Randolph Stow had published five novels and a prize-winning collection of poetry. In Australia, only Kenneth Mackenzie, another Sandgroper, had made a similar youthful impact. Mackenzie’s first book, The Young Desire It, was published in 1937, though I believe drafted some time before that. Stow’s The Haunted Land (1956) was written when he was only seventeen. When another precocious young Western Australian, Tim Winton, published his first novel, he was painfully conscious of these precursors. This was crucial for Winton, because both Mackenzie and Stow were to have troubled creative lives: Mackenzie died relatively young, his later novels disadvantaged by the youthful brilliance of his first. Randolph Stow, after his three initial successes, has published only five further novels, two collections of poems and a book for children. It has been a career with long silences.

... (read more)

You might expect a book of eighty-eight new poems by Les Murray to be sizeable (most of his recent single volumes run to about sixty poems each). But Poems the Size of Photographs is literally a small book, composed of short poems (‘though some are longer’, says the back cover) ...

... (read more)
From a small island, messages in a bottle floating out to sea. That was Gwen Harwood’s image for the poems she sent out during her early years in Tasmania, long before she had due recognition. Her letters, by contrast, knew their destination; they were treasured for decades by her friends, and they now make up the remarkable collection A Steady Storm of Correspondence ... ... (read more)

Authority and Influence: Australian literary criticism, 1950–2000 edited by Delys Bird, Robert Dixon and Christopher Lee

by
May 2001, no. 230

The problems that have bedevilled Australian literary criticism and literary history over the last twenty years have been worldwide. Histories, even quite short ones, now have to be written polyphonically, by committees of dozens of contributors. It is taken for granted that no single person could cover the whole field and the variety of critical perspectives, movements, genres, institutions and ideologies involved. One of the recurrent phrases of recent years has been ‘pushing the boundaries’; but histories, surveys, theses, articles all depend on demarcation lines. That is why the notion of a ‘canon’ has been useful, though, of course, a canon needs to be constantly questioned and revised so as not to become stagnant and restrictive.

... (read more)

Living the queer life in the inner-city suburbs of Sydney, it is hard not to become complacent, smug even. Like a magnet, Sydney draws lesbians, gays, bisexuals, queers, you name it, from all over the country. If you’ve grown up in rural Victoria, moved to Melbourne after compulsory schooling, and then fifteen years later have hit a certain mid-gay-life ennui, where else is there to go?

... (read more)

You can’t escape the black square with the ominous slit: it’s about as familiar and inevitable in Australia as the icon for male or female. Ned’s iron mask now directs you to the National Library’s website of Australian images. There it is, black on red ochre, an importunate camera, staring back as we look through it ...

... (read more)

The Last Race by Celeste Walters & Juice by Katy Watson

by
October 2000, no. 225

It had to happen – a rush of books about the Olympics. But that doesn’t mean they’re all bad or that they won’t last now that the fuss is over. Celeste Walters’ The Last Race, her second book for young adults, should certainly be around for a while. The cover alone could sell the book and word of mouth should do the rest.

... (read more)

Judith Rodriguez deserves a guernsey for this book. It’s one of the best collections to appear in a long while. I think it’s more interesting than its companions in the UQP Selected/Collected series which is now three-all with Shapcott, Taylor and Rodriguez standing as our Living Treasures, and Dransfield, Buckmaster and Rankin among those freed from earthly care. Two chaps and one lady in each category, one observes. There must be logic in it? Poets don’t actually have to die before they get notices. But in the case of Buckmaster and Rankin it will push the reputation up a few notches. I know that’s callous, but you want the truth, don’t you?

... (read more)

If presence in literary journals, anthologies and at writers’ festivals may be taken as an indication of a poet’s importance, Anthony Lawrence has for some time been regarded as one of Australia’s foremost poets of the post-­’68 generation. He has published five books of poetry, all of which to my knowledge have been well received, and he has also been the recipient of many prizes, most recently the inaugural Gwen Harwood Memorial Prize and one of the Newcastle Poetry Prizes for 1997. With the publication of his New and Selected, Lawrence seems to have been canonised.

... (read more)

Rift by Libby Hathorn & Killing Darcy by Melissa Lucashenko

by
June 1998, no. 201

I am sitting at my home desk high up in the mountains overlooking the border ranges to New South Wales and then to the left, the strip of highrise, the Gold Coast, and the sea beyond. Hathorn and Lucashenko have both set their recent youth novels in an imaginary location not far from me. The sea and the hinterland is a territory I am beginning to know well and I have enjoyed exploring it a little further in my reading.

... (read more)