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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).

Chris Wallace-Crabbe reviews 'How to Read A Poem' by Terry Eagleton

May 2007, no. 291 01 May 2007
The English critic Terry Eagleton is nothing if not a dasher. Once suspected by many as the kind of postmodern theorist who undermined the category of ‘literature’, he has increasingly hiked into its territory. In The Illusions of Postmodernism (1996), he turned against the kinds of scepticism and virtuality which he saw as demeaning all literary or cultural study. The book certainly made some ... (read more)

'Poetry in the pop age: Or the battle between the weak and the strong' by Chris Wallace-Crabbe

September 1992, no. 144 01 September 1992
Modern Australians live of course in a concourse or babble of discourses. We make our way through the bubble-and-squeak of chopped-up value systems. There is no tall hierarchy of speakings, no league ladder. Nor is there anything as redgum-solid as permanence; if anything, transience is taken as proof of the genuine. To our juniors, at least, the plotty nightly patter of Home and Away is felt to b ... (read more)

Chris Wallace-Crabbe reviews 'Memoirs of Many in One' by Alex Xenophon Demirjian Gray (edited by Patrick White)

July 1986, no. 82 01 July 1986
Patrick White is a downy old bird. He has always shown remarkable ability to keep up with the game, even to keep ahead of it. Whether the game is currently being called Modernism, or Postmodernism, or some other ismatic title, he can handle it as a writer and still be himself. From The Aunt’s Story to The Twyborn Affair, he has displayed this ability to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds ... (read more)

Chris Wallace-Crabbe reviews 'Boy with A Telescope' by Jan Owen and 'The Twofold Place' by Alan Gould

February–March 1986, no. 78 01 March 1986
The ways of poetry are many but sometimes, as it turns out, they are simply oppositional. These two new volumes of poetry from Angus & Robertson could easily have been produced as the occasion for some compare-and-contrast parlour game. The first, and continuing, thing to be said about them is that Gould is strong on artistic form whereas Owen is strong on life. The harder question to ask abou ... (read more)

'Self Portrait: The honey of earth' by Chris Wallace-Crabbe

August 1987, no, 93 01 August 1987
Writing is what I love doing. There is almost nothing like it. Even playing two or three close sets of tennis will not quite compete with having a good poetic theme discover you, and then managing to nut it out, to make it chime like a bell. No wonder the French critics are so fond of talking about the jouissance of a text. When a poetic shape-and-theme I’ve been struggling with comes good, it c ... (read more)

Chris Wallace-Crabbe reviews 'Poems for an Exhibition' by R.H. Morrison, 'Outer Charting' by Hal Colebatch, and 'The Flower Industry' by Andrew Sant

December 1985–January 1986, no. 77 01 December 1985
The three books under review here promote no generalisation about the condition of poetry, the health of the beast, unless they call to mind the difference between poems which are interesting from line to line and those which somehow resonate as wholes. R.H. Morrison, the eldest of the three poets, is the one who most often produces whole poems, at least to my ear. Morrison is someone who has bee ... (read more)

Chris Wallace-Crabbe reviews 'Australian English' edited by Peter Collins and David Blair

June 1989, no. 111 27 November 2020
Language like the weather, is something that everybody wants to talk about, itemise or complain about. All of us have our views about this or that departure from a supposed norm, this or that barbarous neologisms, this quaint local usage, that oddity of pronunciation. Many of us, too, can be as cranky about language as we are about our interpretations of the weather. For myself, I should like to s ... (read more)

Chris Wallace-Crabbe reviews 'A Little History of Poetry' edited by John Carey

June–July 2020, no. 422 27 May 2020
I must admit to being intrigued by any self-proclaimed ‘Histories of Everything’, so I leapt at the prospect of a dense history of my favourite creative art and how it flourished in our past centuries, right down to a couple of writers who died in 2019. And occidental only: that is, apart from a sidelong glance at Hafez, Tagore, and Li Po’s fellow poets. Unless you regard the Russians, that ... (read more)

'We Play and Hope', a new poem by Chris Wallace-Crabbe

April 2020, no. 420 20 March 2020
‘They fly forgotten, as a dreamDies at the opening day.’ Isaac Watts, ‘O God, Our Help in Ages Past’   We play because we kow-tow and are free;  a set of guidelines activating choiceor so we hope. The mineral poet wrote,‘By loss of memory we are reborn’,but memory’s the root of active power:we grab the minute and we grasp the hourhoping that such engagement ... (read more)