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Dennis Haskell

Dennis Haskell

Dennis Haskell’s most recent book is Acts of Defiance: New and Selected Poems (2010). He is a Research Fellow at the Westerly Centre, University of Western Australia, and a past Chair of the Australia Council’s Literature Board.

Dennis Haskell reviews 'Hard Horizons' by Geoff Page and 'The Left Hand Mirror' by Ron Pretty

June-July 2018, no. 402 25 May 2018
I have no idea if Pitt Street Poetry is located in Pitt Street, in the centre of Sydney’s CBD, but it has certainly made itself central to poetry publishing in Australia. Its list includes such fine poets as Eileen Chong, John Foulcher, Jean Kent, and Anthony Lawrence; that reputation will be added to by these books from Geoff Page and Ron Pretty, two stalwarts of poetic activity in this country ... (read more)

Dennis Haskell reviews 'Dawn the Proof' by Tony Page, 'Headwaters' by Anthony Lawrence, and 'Gods and Uncles' by Geoff Page

September 2016, no. 384 24 August 2016
The last two lines of Tony Page's Dawn the Proof (Hybrid Publishers, $25 pb, 87 pp, 9781925272239) ask 'how to seize / the grains of now'. One of Page's (implicit) answers is to relate the present to the past – a poem can provide a 'glimpse / through history's chink' – but the relationship is not just to the human past. The title poem concerns 'Geography's vastness', which 'weighs anchor and s ... (read more)

Dennis Haskell reviews 'An Unsentimental Bloke: The life and work of C.J. Dennis' by Philip Butterss

October 2014, no. 365 24 September 2014
Now and again it is good to remind ourselves that literary history (and I think the history of the other arts) is strewn with the names of those who had great stature in their own time and are now largely forgotten, and with the names of others for whom the reverse is true. William Blake, short of money, went to work for the much more admired poet William Hayley. These days, the name ‘William Ha ... (read more)

Dennis Haskell reviews 'New Selected Poems' by Geoff Page

April 2014, no. 360 31 March 2014
Twenty pages from the end of his New Selected Poems, Geoff Page imagines being ‘an heir of Whitman’, and muses that ‘I think I could turn awhile and write like the Americans, / they are so at ease in their syllables, irregular as eyelids, / various as the sea’. These lines are so cleverly Whitmanesque that the idea seems momentarily plausible. Only an astute reader will stop to think that ... (read more)

Dennis Haskell reviews 'The Watchmaker's Imprint: Selected Poems' by Ian Templeman

December 2013–January 2014, no. 357 01 December 2013
The last page of Ian Templeman’s Selected Poems asks us to imagine that ‘every touch / expressing affection, left a handprint / on the heart’ that scientists could later ‘analyse, / to trace a profile of love’. Templeman envisages retired scholars who would prefer to find these traces ‘above a life of research texts’. The poem is titled ‘Night Journey’ and the scholars are ‘App ... (read more)

Dennis Haskell reviews 'The Local Wildlife' by Robert Drewe

October 2013, no. 355 30 September 2013
Pre-teen and early teen years had me and many others enjoying Ross Campbell’s witty column in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper about the goings-on in ‘Oxalis Cottage’, a fictionalised version of his Sydney home. Robert Drewe’s often hilarious columns for The Age and The Weekend West are a kind of modern equivalent, and a selection of them is brought together to form The Local Wildlife. ... (read more)

Dennis Haskell reviews 'The Land’s Meaning' by Randolph Stow

September 2012, no. 344 30 August 2012
Randolph Stow, who died in 2010 aged seventy-four, must now be considered part of the Australian canon, whether that concept is conceived broadly or as a smaller cluster of Leavisian peaks. This status derives from his eight novels, which include the Miles Franklin Award-winner To the Islands (1958), the celebrated children’s book Midnite: The Story of a Wild Colonial Boy (1967), the much studie ... (read more)