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John Hawke

John Hawke

John Hawke's books include Australian Literature and the Symbolist Movement, Poetry and the Trace (co-edited with Ann Vickery), and the volume of poetry Aurelia, which received the 2015 Anne Elder award. His most recent poetry collection is Whirlwind Duststorm (2021).

John Hawke reviews ‘The Other Side of Daylight: New and selected poems’ by David Brooks

May 2024, no. 464 22 April 2024
The final poem of this superb collection, ‘The Darkness’, identifies a primal scene. The young protagonist is a nascent poet, watching over the embers of a desert fire in early morning, awaiting the breath of a Pentecostal wind to rekindle the flames. It is a parable which emblematises the difficult task of transformation that is central to poetry itself: the boy contends with ‘fragments / t ... (read more)

John Hawke reviews 'Collected Poems: Volume One (1980–2005), The Ascension of Sheep', and 'Collected Poems: Volume Two (2005–2014), Harsh Hakea' by John Kinsella

June 2023, no. 454 24 May 2023
A quarter of a century has passed since Ivor Indyk contributed a scathing review of John Kinsella’s first collected poems to the pages of ABR (July 1997), and the contending responses to that opinion have typified the reception of his poetry among the vituperative local poetry community ever since. This extravagant representation of his work – two volumes of close to a thousand pages each, wit ... (read more)

John Hawke reviews 'The Beauty of Baudelaire: The poet as alternative lawgiver' by Roger Pearson

July 2022, no. 444 26 June 2022
The life and work of Charles Baudelaire (1821–67) must be viewed against the historical background of the crushing failure of the Paris revolution of 1848, in which soldiers massacred three thousand workers. In the elections that followed this unsuccessful working-class uprising, which Baudelaire and his fellow artists supported, the French Romantic poet Alphonse de Lamartine received 18,000 vot ... (read more)

John Hawke reviews 'Poetry and Bondage: A history and theory of lyric constraint' by Andrea Brady

April 2022, no. 441 23 March 2022
Andrea Brady’s monumental study of poetry and constraint focuses on ‘the ways that poets invoke bondage as metaphor while effacing the actuality of bondage’. Milton’s aspiration to deliver poetry from ‘the modern bondage of rhyming’, and Blake’s injunction that ‘poetry fetter’d, fetters the human race’, associate formal freedoms with political liberation. The modernist discover ... (read more)

'September', a new poem by John Hawke

March 2021, no. 429 22 February 2021
This is one of the times you won’t remember.You are lying side by side with your father as the radio murmurs, a ghost wind shiftingfrom magnet to magnet that does not announce its presence. You know you willnever equal the weight of disappointments that make up his experience of this worldhe has gifted you, who are as empty as radio patter engraving the detailsof every current moment, reliev ... (read more)

John Hawke reviews 'Beautiful Objects: Selected poems' by Martin Johnston

December 2020, no. 427 25 November 2020
There has as yet been no comprehensive critical study of the poets associated with the ‘Generation of ’68’, of whom Martin Johnston was perhaps the most naturally gifted and certainly the most intellectually expansive representative. This is because the project of these poets, to fully incorporate the stylistic innovations of modernist poetics and its development in postwar American models w ... (read more)

'Poetry and Australian Book Review' by John Hawke

Book Talk 24 January 2020
John Hawke – poet, academic, and poetry editor of ABR – chaired the judging panel for the 2020 Peter Porter Poetry Prize. At the Porter Prize ceremony held at the Boyd Community Hub on January 16, he addressed various themes in his opening remarks. Following readings of the five shortlisted poems, Morag Fraser then named A. Frances Johnson as the overall winner of the Porter Prize. As we cele ... (read more)

John Hawke reviews 'Ashbery Mode' edited by Michael Farrell

November 2019, no. 416 24 October 2019
The recent death of Les Murray can be likened in its significance to the passing of Victor Hugo, after which, as Stéphane Mallarmé famously wrote, poetry ‘could fly off, freely scattering its numberless and irreducible elements’. Murray’s subsumption of the Australian nationalist tradition in poetry, including The Bulletin schools of both the 1890s (A.G. Stephens) and 1940s (Douglas Stewar ... (read more)

John Hawke reviews 'The Penguin Book of the Prose Poem' by Jeremy Noel-Tod

September 2019, no. 414 27 August 2019
In his infamous 1955 review of Patrick White’s The Tree of Man, A.D. Hope’s dismissal of the book as ‘illiterate verbal sludge’ focuses on a perceived confusion between the categories of poetry and prose. White ‘tries to write a novel as if he were writing poetry, and lyric poetry at that’, writes Hope; however, ‘the imagery, the devices of poetry are effective because they are wedde ... (read more)
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