In her short life (1891–1927), Lesbia Harford wrote hundreds of poems and a novel, took a law degree at the University of Melbourne, had love affairs with both women and men, worked as a machinist in clothing factories, and was active in the anti-conscription movement during World War I and the International Workers of the World (‘the Wobblies’). She was the quintessential modern woman of the early twentieth century.
Poems are like mangroves. They lodge and grow in the mind, becoming part of us, just as these plants take root in estuarine silt. Even on the page, there is sometimes a resemblance. As its title suggests, Laurie Duggan’s first volume since New and Selected Poems (1996) is substantially a product of his recent move to Brisbane, containing a large section of poems coloured by references to the city’s subtropical conditions. However, Mangroves also brings together varied material that dates from 1988 to 1994, some of which – notably the ‘Blue Hills’ sequences – has been published elsewhere.