Noel Rowe, poet and critic, was something of an enigma to me. It is hard to believe that he was still in his thirties (just) when I met him in 1990 at the University of Sydney, he a lecturer, I a postgraduate student. Noel seemed to have an enormous wealth of experience, though he was never showy with it. In 1990 he was still a member of the Catholic religious order the Marist Fathers. (He left in 1992.) He had grown up on a farm, and prior to becoming a priest he had intended to be an actor. He had travelled, and he seemed like a far more senior academic than his recently acquired associate lectureship now indicates. (Like most students, I was largely ignorant of the profoundly hierarchical nature of academia.) Despite the fullness of his life, Noel always seemed essentially young, if youth can be defined by an openness to experience. It seems too cruel that such a man should have died at the age of fifty-six, of cancer, in 2007.
Ethical Investigations: Essays on Australian Literature and Poetics
by Noel Rowe
Vagabond Press, $33 pb, 240 pp, 9780980511314