Anthony Lynch

In 1982 a young Steve Kelen published a slim volume by an even younger poet by the name of Luke Davies. Four Plots for Magnets was a chapbook of thirteen poems written mostly when the poet was eighteen and nineteen. Published by Glandular Press, an outlet established by Kelen and the painter Ken Searle in 1980, this ‘sampler’ (as Kelen later calls i ...

Early in his Literary Theory: An Introduction, Terry Eagleton quotes the Russian formalist critic Roman Jakobson: ‘[literature is writing that represents] organised violence committed on ordinary speech.’ I don’t know if Corey Wakeling has been influenced by the formalists’ theories, but Goad Omen, his energetic first collection, is reple ...

Westerly Vol. 57, No. 2 edited by Delys Bird and Tony Hughes-d’Aeth

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May 2013, no. 351

‘Tell me about it: you can trust me. I’m a writer.’ This ‘cautionary joke’ – one of few in this sober volume – cited in an essay by Frank Moorhouse, could be an epigraph for the latest Westerly. Editors Bird and Hughes-d’Aeth asked a selection of writers to share their thoughts on the ethics of writing. The ensuing essays include depictions of ...

Brook Emery’s opening poem in Collusion is addressed to ‘Dear K’, an address reprised in the last, movingly lyrical poem in this his fourth collection. We might read the intervening poems as a correspondence with ‘K’, this other who halfway through the collection is referred to as ...

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Cate Kennedy’s fine second collection of short stories, Like a House on Fire, is of a determinedly realist bent. Metafictional play does not generally form part of Kennedy’s armoury, and the mostly low-rent settings and struggling characters reprise what in the 1980s and early 1990s was briefly known as dirty realism, though Kennedy’s prose is not as resolutely spare as that of some writers associated with that movement.

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Percy Grainger has been the subject of a number of books (most notably a 1976 biography by John Bird), a play (A Whip Around for Percy Grainger, 1982) by Thérèse Radic, and a feature film, Passion (1999), by Peter Duncan. He was an avid letter-writer, and his correspondence has been anthologised and critiqued. Thanks to his eccentric way of life and sometimes erratic behaviour and opinions – his famously close relationship with his mother, Rose, his self-flagellation, dubious theories of race and culture – the composer has also long been the subject of salaciousspeculation. Grainger was a large personality, and conjecture about his habits and personal tastes has often over-whelmed considerations of his modest, yet important, output as a composer and arranger.

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In his polemical Introduction, Les Murray notes that Quadrant was founded sixty years ago by poet James McAuley, the ‘stern formalist’ who ensured that poetry occupied a prominent place in the magazine. Poetry has continued to be central to Quadrant, its profile not waning under Murray’s stewardship as ...

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‘Dark satanic mills won the day’, S.K. Kelen tells us in one of his strongest poems, ‘Slouching’. ‘Cold modernity followed, a brooding European / monochrome hinted at worlds passing (the good old days).’ What many critics take to be William Blake’s damning of the Industrial Revolution – ‘And was Jerusalem builded here, / Among these dark Satanic Mills?’ (from ‘And did those feet in ancient time’, c.1804) – could easily have served as an epigraph for Kelen’s Island Earth. The industrial age, its intrusion upon great swathes of the ‘emerald world’, has been variously and often compellingly dissected by Kelen throughout his poetic career, which spans more than three decades and is represented in this New and Selected. Also scrutinised is industrialism’s accomplice and enabler: the increasingly global economy that, for Kelen, has made a hostile takeover of human activity at almost every level.

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From Kafka on, we can trace a line of narratives dealing with alienation in the modern workplace, with forces seen and unseen overwhelming individual volition. S.J. Finn’s first novel makes a humorous contribution to this tradition.

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'It’s in your hands, Julianne,’ proclaims an e-mail from Barack Obama. So opens the latest Griffith Review, which explores the many ways that, across the globe, individuals and groups are taking social, political and environmental matters into their own hands. Addressee aside, the Obama e-mail sent to editor Schultz in the final week of the US election campaign landed in the virtual hands of millions. But as Schultz notes, the Obama campaign saw ‘social networking’ on a massive scale, made millions feel involved and, she posits, saw a concomitant end to the ‘era of mass media politics’. Marian Arkin’s memoir picks up on campaign engagement, recalling her involvement with a large-scale community of volunteer lawyers working to protect the integrity of the US election process. Arkin’s article provides a useful guide to those who find the US electoral college system a mystery.

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