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Lisa Gorton

Lisa Gorton

Lisa Gorton, who lives in Melbourne, is a poet, novelist, and critic, and a former Poetry Editor of ABR. She studied at the Universities of Melbourne and Oxford. A Rhodes Scholar, she completed a Masters in Renaissance Literature and a Doctorate on John Donne at Oxford University, and was awarded the John Donne Society Award for Distinguished Publication in Donne Studies. Her first poetry collection, Press Release (2007), won the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Poetry. She has also been awarded the Vincent Buckley Poetry Prize. A second poetry collection followed in 2013: Hotel Hyperion (also Giramondo). Lisa has also written a children’s novel, Cloudland (2008). Her novel The Life of Houses (2015) shared the 2016 Prime Minister’s Award for fiction. She is the editor of The Best Australian Poems 2013 (Black Inc.).

Lisa Gorton reviews ‘Jacket’ edited by John Tranter and Pam Brown and ‘Space: New writing, no. 2’ edited by Anthony Lynch and David McCooey

June–July 2005, no. 272 01 June 2005
John Tranter once remarked of his online journal, Jacket, ‘I’d guess that about half the readers have no real idea [it] comes from Australia. And I don’t feel it does. It comes from the Internet; it’s almost an outer-space thing.’ In fact, Jacket seems to come from the far more intimate and sociable realm of poets talking to each other. And the talk is endless. ... (read more)

Lisa Gorton reviews ‘There, Where the Pepper Grows’ by Bem Le Hunte and ‘Behind The Moon’ by Hsu-Ming Teo

November 2005, no. 276 01 November 2005
There’s a joke that comes up in westerns about the book that saves: a thick volume in the chest pocket that takes a bullet. Bem Le Hunte introduces her second novel about a small band of World War II refugees: ‘This book was written as a prayer for those people who could not live to tell their tales. It was written, too, as a prayer for the future of our world, in the hope that stories like th ... (read more)

Lisa Gorton reviews ‘Agenda: Australian Issue’ edited by Patricia McCarthy and ‘Jacket 28, October 2005’ edited by John Tranter

February 2006, no. 278 01 February 2006
William Cookson was eighteen. He had been writing to Ezra Pound for three years. At last he spent a week in Italy with the great man. ‘Does he ever speak?’ Pound asked his mother. Nonetheless, or as a consequence, Pound encouraged Cookson to start a literary magazine. Cookson founded Agenda in 1959 and edited it until his death in 2003. This is Agenda’s first Australian issue, a double issu ... (read more)

2006 Peter Porter Poetry Prize Shortlist | ‘Mallee’ by Lisa Gorton

March 2006, no. 279 01 March 2006
I. ClaimWild birds rise before us, making the noise of a multitude clapping hands.The men fire, fire again and still they rise, they rise clear out of range andwhere they were they leave such wakes of light, they are tearing the blue-blackshadows out of the river; their wing tumult is shadows escaping air. Actflung back to motives, they arc away from us and scatter till I am fiercefor what I canno ... (read more)

Lisa Gorton reviews ‘The Mother Workshops and Other Poems’ by Jeri Kroll and ‘Shadows at the Gate’ by Robyn Rowland

May 2004, no. 261 01 May 2004
Robyn Rowland and Jeri Kroll write what you might call anecdotal poetry: simple, intimate and direct. Kroll, for instance, writes about her dogs, doing her taxes and sleeping in, with the sketchy, conversational tone of someone thinking out loud: ‘Does age smell? The older the dog grows, / the more he smells like a labrador, / though he’s a border collie and blue heeler.’  ... (read more)

Lisa Gorton reviews ‘beautiful, unfinished’ by M.T.C. Cronin

November 2003, no. 256 01 November 2003
Like M.T.C. Cronin’s earlier collections, beautiful, unfinished is characterised by a mixture of mystical awe and formal restraint. The collection is subtitled PARABLE/SONG/CANTO/POEM’. As this suggests, it consists of a parable of sorts in verse, a sequence of songs, a set of cantos ‘minus melody’, and some poems. But in Cronin’s hands, these various forms seem based upon haiku. She wri ... (read more)

Lisa Gorton reviews ‘Children’s Literature: A reader’s history, from Aesop to Harry Potter’ by Seth Lerer

November 2008, no. 306 01 November 2008
‘Dress me and put my shoes on; it is time, it is the hour before dawn, so that we should get ready for school.’ This colloquy, probably from Gaul in the third or fourth century, prescribes the ideal child’s conversation, from waking and greeting his parents politely to walking home, with his slave, from school at noon. Seth Lerer’s history of children’s literature starts with papyrus an ... (read more)

Lisa Gorton reviews ‘On The Origin of Stories: Evolution, cognition, and fiction’ by Brian Boyd

October 2009, no. 315 01 October 2009
Anyone who has found herself in a supermarket late on Thursday when a new checkout opens will have no trouble understanding why evolutionary biologists have struggled to explain the development of altruism in humans. In On Natural Selection, Darwin asserts: ‘In social animals [nature] will adapt the structure of each individual for the benefit of the community, if each in consequence profits by ... (read more)

Lisa Gorton reviews ‘The Nest’ by Paul Jennings

April 2009, no. 310 01 April 2009
Early winter: Robin is living with his father in the mountains. Where is his mother and why did she leave? This mystery drives the conflict between Robin and his father, who won’t tell Robin what he knows. The Nest is a family drama with a Gothic mystery at its heart. The tension between these elements – the unusual structure that Jennings has created to hold them together – gives the novel ... (read more)

Lisa Gorton reviews four poetry recordings from River Road

May 2010, no. 321 01 May 2010
It is strangely affecting to see people’s lips moving as they sit silently reading to themselves. Apparently, when we read we can’t help but imagine speaking. Even silent reading has its life in the body: seeing words, the part of our brain that governs speech starts working. When we read poetry silently to ourselves, is it our own voice or the poet’s voice that we hear? Alone, we do not th ... (read more)
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