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I Come in Peace

by
September 1997, no. 194

Salt: Volume 10 edited by John Kinsella

FACP/Folio $16.95, 313 pp

I Come in Peace

by
September 1997, no. 194

When a poet reviews a poetry magazine, it can be like walking out over a virtual minefield. I have a few more books to write before they take me out, so let me say straight away, I come in peace. These are cynical times, so maybe nobody will be taken in by this tone. After all, Salt is published and edited by John Kinsella, a highly successful poet who has established himself in record time. Let’s face it, this is poetry as strategy. As Hilary McPhee pointed out, the literary community in this country can be particularly vicious, and if anyone tries to hose that down they are having themselves on – the response McPhee got in relation to what she actually said proves the point really. It doesn’t have to be bland and polite though. There has been a lot of talk about the careerist approach to poetry lately. Ramona Koval noted at the first National Poetry Festival in Melbourne recently that some American poets have taken on this ‘professionalisation’ of poetry even down to their ‘Brooks Brothers suits and leather satchels’. Fay Zwicky replied, ‘I think careerism in poetry is contrary to how a poem comes into existence in the first place.’

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