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Kris Hemensley

Flight Animals by Bronwyn Lea & Sensual Horizon by Martin Langford

December 2001–January 2002, no. 237

Seamless with his two previous collections, Behind the Moon is Jacob Rosenberg’s potted autobiography of a survivor of Lodz and Auschwitz, delivered from that hell, of which he writes with the kindness of an angel, into the heaven that Melbourne must then logically be. To be the poet of reality and not self-delusion is his reality, is his commission. The trouble he contends with is that his present is posthumous, for the contemporary world could never be charged with such reality. Heaven doesn’t exist.

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It is strangely affecting to see people’s lips moving as they sit silently reading to themselves. Apparently, when we read we can’t help but imagine speaking. Even silent reading has its life in the body: seeing words, the part of our brain that governs speech starts working. When we read poetry silently to ourselves, is it our own voice or the poet’s voice that we hear?

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Visions by Kevin Brophy

May 1989, no. 110

Elizabeth Riddell quipped about Kevin Brophy’s first novel, Getting Away With It (Wildgrass, 1982), that he hadn’t! I do not recall anything else of her review, but must confess that it also replaced my own estimation of the book. With hindsight, it’s clear that the novel has too many attributes to be disqualified, however wittily. Furthermore, Brophy’s new novel, Visions, recovers the best of his earlier novel’s operations, advancing them this time in an entirely coherent and often marvellous manner.

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The everlasting dance of sounds and feelings and colours, the taste and scent of life, comes to us in its most explicit form in words. Even when Proust’s famous Madeleine led him back through its scents and associations in search of a time that was lost, he followed its tracks through words that brought back the images of the past and tied them down into clear grammatical patterns of form and relationship. Because language teaches us how to think and feel and see it is always political. The speaker and the writer impose on us patterns which either reinforce or subvert established power. It is no accident that a failed conservative businessman and politician has been able to recover his fortunes by writing a political thriller, or that Mrs Thatcher has now engaged him on the task of selling her politics of destruction to a wary electorate. The words create the reality.

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