Starlight: 150 Poems by John Tranter & The Salt Companion to John Tranter edited by edited by Rod Mengham

by
October 2010, no. 325
Buy this book
Gig Ryan reviews 'Starlight' by John Tranter and 'The Salt Companion to John Tranter' edited by Rod Mengham

Starlight: 150 Poems

by John Tranter

University of Queensland Press, $24.95 pb, 214 pp, 9780702238451

Buy this book

The Salt Companion to John Tranter

edited by edited by Rod Mengham

Salt Publishing, $34.95 pb, 253 pp, 9781876857769

Starlight: 150 Poems by John Tranter & The Salt Companion to John Tranter edited by edited by Rod Mengham

by
October 2010, no. 325

John Tranter has published more than twenty books since 1970. They include long dramatic monologues, a type of verse novel (The Floor of Heaven, 1992), prose poems and traditional verse forms. Starlight, his new collection, continues his ‘evisceration’, as he calls it, of other poets. His first book, Parallax (1970), signalled an important theme in his work: parallax is ‘the effect whereby the position or direction of an object appears to differ when viewed from different positions’ (OED). Tranter’s use of multiple voices competing for attention, overlapping and arguing, has often been his version of representation, where nothing remains fixed. The multi-voiced poems illustrate that all affectations and effects are also what makes us human, just as all poetry is partly an accumulation of past poems. Multiple voices distracting, interrupting, guiding the poem so as to annihilate any lyrical or godly single stance has been one of Tranter‘s driving intentions. The ‘Ern Malley’ poems also act as touchstones, proof that good poetry can be made from borrowing from varied sources. Tranter, who included all of the Malley poems in The Penguin Book of Modern Australian Poetry (edited with Philip Mead, 1991), intends to show that crowds of voices, often melodramatic, as in The Floor of Heaven, are more exactly representative, composed of all the poet’s knowledge of culture, entertainment, and experience.

Interestingly, Stephen Burt’s essay in The Salt Companion to John Tranter asserts that an aggressive rebellion, followed by almost jaunty resignation, is a recurring attitude in some recent poems, even as the formal structures of the past decade have become more unusual. Starlight is mainly composed of poems that reimagine those of Baudelaire, Eliot and Ashbery.

Gig Ryan reviews 'Starlight' by John Tranter and 'The Salt Companion to John Tranter' edited by Rod Mengham

Starlight: 150 Poems

by John Tranter

University of Queensland Press, $24.95 pb, 214 pp, 9780702238451

The Salt Companion to John Tranter

edited by edited by Rod Mengham

Salt Publishing, $34.95 pb, 253 pp, 9781876857769

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