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Lisa Gorton

Lisa Gorton

Lisa Gorton, who lives in Melbourne, is a poet, novelist, and critic, and a former Poetry Editor of ABR. She studied at the Universities of Melbourne and Oxford. A Rhodes Scholar, she completed a Masters in Renaissance Literature and a Doctorate on John Donne at Oxford University, and was awarded the John Donne Society Award for Distinguished Publication in Donne Studies. Her first poetry collection, Press Release (2007), won the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Poetry. She has also been awarded the Vincent Buckley Poetry Prize. A second poetry collection followed in 2013: Hotel Hyperion (also Giramondo). Lisa has also written a children’s novel, Cloudland (2008). Her novel The Life of Houses (2015) shared the 2016 Prime Minister’s Award for fiction. She is the editor of The Best Australian Poems 2013 (Black Inc.).

2006 Peter Porter Poetry Prize Shortlist | ‘Mallee’ by Lisa Gorton

March 2006, no. 279 01 March 2006
I. ClaimWild birds rise before us, making the noise of a multitude clapping hands.The men fire, fire again and still they rise, they rise clear out of range andwhere they were they leave such wakes of light, they are tearing the blue-blackshadows out of the river; their wing tumult is shadows escaping air. Actflung back to motives, they arc away from us and scatter till I am fiercefor what I canno ... (read more)

Lisa Gorton reviews ‘The Mother Workshops and Other Poems’ by Jeri Kroll and ‘Shadows at the Gate’ by Robyn Rowland

May 2004, no. 261 01 May 2004
Robyn Rowland and Jeri Kroll write what you might call anecdotal poetry: simple, intimate and direct. Kroll, for instance, writes about her dogs, doing her taxes and sleeping in, with the sketchy, conversational tone of someone thinking out loud: ‘Does age smell? The older the dog grows, / the more he smells like a labrador, / though he’s a border collie and blue heeler.’  ... (read more)

Lisa Gorton reviews ‘beautiful, unfinished’ by M.T.C. Cronin

November 2003, no. 256 01 November 2003
Like M.T.C. Cronin’s earlier collections, beautiful, unfinished is characterised by a mixture of mystical awe and formal restraint. The collection is subtitled PARABLE/SONG/CANTO/POEM’. As this suggests, it consists of a parable of sorts in verse, a sequence of songs, a set of cantos ‘minus melody’, and some poems. But in Cronin’s hands, these various forms seem based upon haiku. She wri ... (read more)

Lisa Gorton reviews ‘Children’s Literature: A reader’s history, from Aesop to Harry Potter’ by Seth Lerer

November 2008, no. 306 01 November 2008
‘Dress me and put my shoes on; it is time, it is the hour before dawn, so that we should get ready for school.’ This colloquy, probably from Gaul in the third or fourth century, prescribes the ideal child’s conversation, from waking and greeting his parents politely to walking home, with his slave, from school at noon. Seth Lerer’s history of children’s literature starts with papyrus an ... (read more)

Lisa Gorton reviews ‘On The Origin of Stories: Evolution, cognition, and fiction’ by Brian Boyd

October 2009, no. 315 01 October 2009
Anyone who has found herself in a supermarket late on Thursday when a new checkout opens will have no trouble understanding why evolutionary biologists have struggled to explain the development of altruism in humans. In On Natural Selection, Darwin asserts: ‘In social animals [nature] will adapt the structure of each individual for the benefit of the community, if each in consequence profits by ... (read more)

Lisa Gorton reviews ‘The Nest’ by Paul Jennings

April 2009, no. 310 01 April 2009
Early winter: Robin is living with his father in the mountains. Where is his mother and why did she leave? This mystery drives the conflict between Robin and his father, who won’t tell Robin what he knows. The Nest is a family drama with a Gothic mystery at its heart. The tension between these elements – the unusual structure that Jennings has created to hold them together – gives the novel ... (read more)

Lisa Gorton reviews four poetry recordings from River Road

May 2010, no. 321 01 May 2010
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? Alone, we do not th ... (read more)

Lisa Gorton reviews 'Storm and Honey' by Judith Beveridge

December 2009–January 2010, no. 317 01 December 2009
Judith Beveridge is one of the most brilliant image-makers in Australian poetry. She writes of rain ‘bubble-wrapping the windows’ and yachts making a sound ‘as if cutlery were being replenished on table tops’. Her images, exuberant and fantastical, hold a balance between the real and the imagined world – as Gwen Harwood’s poem, ‘Thought Is Surrounded by a Halo’, closes: ‘Picture ... (read more)

'Graffiti' a poem by Lisa Gorton

February 2007, no. 288 01 February 2007
‘I wonder this wall can bear the weight of such words’Graffiti on a wall in Pompeii The city is smaller than you expected.Its houses turn their backs on streets –        And given half a chance       who wouldn’t bunker down behind a stack of silence?       An arm’s length of wall permits any ... (read more)

Lisa Gorton reviews 'How to End a Story: Diaries 1995–1998' by Helen Garner

January–February 2022, no. 439 20 December 2021
The first two volumes of Helen Garner’s diaries – Yellow Notebook (2019) and One Day I’ll Remember This (2020) – cover eight years apiece. This one covers three. It is an intense, even claustrophobic story of the breakup of a marriage – a story told in the incidental, fragmentary form of a diary. In an earlier volume, Garner wrote: ‘I would like to write about dominance, revulsion, se ... (read more)
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