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Chris Wallace-Crabbe

Chris Wallace-Crabbe

Chris Wallace-Crabbe AM is the author of more than twenty collections of poetry. His most recent books of verse include The Universe Looks Down (2005), and Telling a Hawk from a Handsaw (2008). He is Professor Emeritus in Culture and Communication at Melbourne University. Also a public speaker and commentator on the visual arts, he specialises in ‘artists’ books’. Read It Again, a volume of critical essays, was published in 2005. Among other awards he has won the Dublin Prize for Arts and Sciences and the Christopher Brennan Award for Literature. His latest book is Rondo (2018).

'Mayhem' a poem by Chris Wallace-Crabbe

May 2010, no. 321 01 May 2010
       ‘It’s something like learning geography,’ thought       Alice, as she stood on tiptoe in hopes of being able       to see a little further.                   Through the Looking-Glass Our mob was fond of Tweedled ... (read more)

Chris Wallace-Crabbe reviews 'Killing the Black Dog' by Les Murray

November 2009, no. 316 01 November 2009
Lawrence warned us not to trust the teller, but to trust the tale. Nevertheless, all writers are apt to suffer the fate of being confused or conflated with their works. Maybe it is part of what Goethe entitled Dichtung und Wahrheit. If truth is going to be let into poetry, many readers want to know the facts about the poet: both the jubilant facts and the disconcerting ones. This is not merely irr ... (read more)

Chris Wallace-Crabbe reviews 'An Anthology Of Modern Irish Poetry' edited by Wes Davis

June 2010, issue no. 322 01 June 2010
For W.B. Yeats, Ireland was the place and source of poetry, even when he was living in Oxford or London. It was also a mythical figure, enabling of ardour and of song, the desirable ‘Cathleen, the daughter of Houlihan’; and it became a delicately evocative crepuscule, mocked by Brendan Kennelly when he opens a poem with ‘Now in the Celtic twilight decrepit whores / Prowl warily along the Gra ... (read more)

Commentary by Chris Wallace-Crabbe

February 2003, no. 248 01 February 2003
The Underside of the fish is just as tasty as its upper flanks. Life is also like that. And leadership is not just a matter of will, power and grandeur not just like A.D Hope’s image of such power when he writes in ‘Pyramis’: I think of how the work was hurried on:Those terrible souls. the Pharaohs. those great KingsTaking. like genius, their prerogativeOf blood, mind, Treasure ... (read more)

Chris Wallace-Crabbe reviews 'Frank Wilmot: Selected poetry and prose' edited by Phillip Mead and 'Frank Wilmot: Printer and Publisher' by Hugh Andersen

February–March 1998, no. 198 01 February 1998
Frank Wilmot has aways existed in my mind under his nom-de­-poetical-plume: that is to say, as Furnley Maurice. This, even though his proper name was given in my first collection of Australian verse, that of H.M. Green forty-five years or so ago. For several decades, from the mid-1950s on, modernism was seen as a Good Thing and our stuffy Australian forebears were upbraided for not taking it o ... (read more)

Chris Wallace-Crabbe reviews 'John Brack' by Kirsty Grant et al.

July-August 2009, no. 313 01 July 2009
John Brack (1920–99) is one of the most remarkable of Australian painters, and a salient figure in the generation that included Arthur Boyd, Fred Williams, John Perceval, Leonard French, and John Olsen, of whom only two survive. Many viewers would see him as the imagination that made our suburbs viable as art; others have been in two minds about his clarity and perfectionism. Hard edges can make ... (read more)

Chris Wallace-Crabbe reviews 'Damaged Glamour' by John Forbes

June 1998, no. 201 01 June 1998
The poet John Forbes died suddenly in January 1998. He was not glamorous, but his work was, for reasons that are not immediately apparent. Certainly, he was the most accomplished, along with the immensely learned Martin Johnston, of the young poets who swam into orbit in the 1970s. He was also the writer who most convincingly bridged the gap between a radical art and the relatively conservative, y ... (read more)

Chris Wallace-Crabbe reviews 'Strong Leadership: Thatcher, Reagan and an eminent person' by Graham Little

December 1988, no. 107 01 December 1988
Australian attitudes to strong leaders, big bosses and tall poppies are said to be simply disrespectful, but are in fact ambiguous. Our high culture constructs a version of low culture which is defined as wittily cock-snooking, and rejoices in, its ironic one-liners. G.A. Wilkes quotes as slightly canonical an account of a Gallipoli digger giving a vulgar, impromptu brush-off to General Birdwood. ... (read more)

'Letter from Iberia' by Chris Wallace-Crabbe

May 2001, no. 230 01 May 2001
You are going to Singapore, they said. Yes, but which way? was the natural response. If I’m flying to the island-city, my flight should take in something with a more exotic range of scenery, perhaps even a sniff of nature. Birds and stuff. So the painter and I decided on Portugal: and why not throw in Spain? My own travels had never taken me further than Catalonia, which so determinedly is, and ... (read more)

'Oh, Yes, Then', a poem by Chris Wallace-Crabbe

October 2007, no. 295 01 October 2007
When I am rotting patiently wheremy eldest, Ben, now liesAnd the bright prunus petals are dropping awayfaster than flies, when Georgia has swatches of greyin her falls of fairish hair,Toby has a neat condominiumset up offshore somewhere, and a nimbler, wiser Josh, outdoorsis performative with his hands,busy as a rock-cod, making somethinghe tacitly understands, where will you be, the flaminglyj ... (read more)