Singles: Shorter works 1981–1986
University of Queensland Press, 53pp, $9.95pb
This is John A. Scott’s sixth collection of poems since 1975. The volume is slim but not thin. Each poem encompasses its observation, reflection, or moment from which departures are measured, as the positives and negatives of ‘delicious solitude’ are weighed. Amid urban blues, bar-speak, team games and the distorting foci of others’ projections, the ‘predicate adjective alone’ evokes either dignity, pathos, or something in between. Scott considers the prospects.
These are funny, sad and wry poems about waiting and watching. The gaps (and links) between action and expression are defined, the hold of past experience is admitted (two poems adjust the ‘vertical’ and ‘horizontal’ to clarify the picture) and mild optimism seems implicit in the persistent desire for new beginnings. The poetry records suspenseful moments of acute awareness; the breathing spaces that indicate potential, before individual commitment makes history of choice.