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A sceptical heart

June 2008, no. 302

Without an Alibi by Philip Neilsen

Salt, $35 hb, 111 pp

A sceptical heart

June 2008, no. 302

The title of this rich and varied collection of poetry by Philip Neilsen comes from a poem entitled ‘First Creative Writing Class’:

I have only just begun to know
what a cloud is and could be.
Poetry comes without an alibi,
in lightning flashes of sanity.

The poem captures many of the characteristics of Neilsen’s verse making. His teaching role at the Queensland University of Technology, where he founded the Creative Writing Discipline and programme in 1996, suggests his interest in the poem’s subject matter and his scrupulous care of language. The voice is clear, concise and without sentimentality. Images are lovingly crafted, and the music of words and their meaning are not sacrificed for an easy theatricality. There is also modesty as the poet–teacher confesses he still is learning the ways of shaping his world through language. As with many of his poems, there is that wisp of wry humour, a hint of scepticism.

Ian Templeman reviews 'Without an Alibi' by Philip Neilsen

Without an Alibi

by Philip Neilsen

Salt, $35 hb, 111 pp

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