One of the challenges confronting the writer of poetry is the balancing of public and private modes in an engaging and satisfactory whole. In these three collections the precarious possibilities of balance, of confiding and confronting, are attempted in very different ways.
In The Earthquake Lands Hal Colebatch presents tightly structured poems reflecting a carefully elaborated world view. Here is a writer both sure of his powers and unwilling to take risks with the intensities that go beyond control. Shifting between archetypal English landscapes and the more familiar territory of Western Australia, Colebatch’s passionately nostalgia plays on the confrontation between the human and Nature, as expressed in the opening poem, ‘Selsey Pub’:
And this place I have never seen before
is strangely right, strangely home dear.
The door-nails gleam polished by centuries.
These are the things we need: deep comfort
and The Wild, so close together here.