Wakefield Press, $16.95 pb, 108 pp
Ken Bolton recommends this: ‘What is most valuable in these poems, and what is rare, is Keneally’s avoidance of metaphor and of the conventionally poetic in favour of intelligence and educated plain-speak that, of course, isn’t so plain, so unitary ...’ This well-meant blurb could create some problems, as the volume is actually as metaphoric and conventionally poetic as most modern collections. ‘Plain-speak’ also has an Orwellian feel, particularly with ‘intelligence’ and ‘educated’. Many poetry conventions and metaphors are aids to communication, including their use in general speech.
I should stress, therefore, that there is not so much literary ideology in the text itself. Kenneally employs imagery and poetic conventions deftly. ‘On the Beach’ is about a schoolgirl swimming at the nuns’ beach-house: ‘It felt like being cupped in / a bowl of liquid light’, with ‘tips of toes clutching at / terra firma, the sun / declining’ and the swimmer ‘declining the offer / (for the moment) / of horizons’.