The Penguin Anthology of Australian Poetry
Penguin, $35 pb, 454 pp
The publication of John Kinsella’s The Penguin Anthology of Australian Poetry is a major event in Australian poetry. It offers a powerful, large-scale vision of Australia and its poetry. Reading Kinsella’s anthology during the great southern heat-wave of 2009 (before the week of Black Saturday), my understanding of both things became coloured by their accidental intersection. On the second night of the heatwave, Australian poetry buzzing in my head, I took my dog outside for his usual night-time wander around the front yard. The suburban streets were deserted, as they had been in the scorching heat of the day. But at night, this desertion, coupled with the unusual nocturnal heat, gave the suburb an uncanny quality, simultaneously familiar and strange. The only human sounds were the ghostly hum of air conditioners and, in the distance, the mournful noise of someone bringing in a wheelie bin.