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Martin Duwell

Martin Duwell was born in England in 1948. He taught for thirty-five years in the School of English, Media Studies and Art History at the University of Queensland, where he received his doctorate in 1988. He is the author of A Possible Contemporary Poetry (1982) and an edition of the selected poems of John Blight. He was one of the editors of the Penguin New Literary History of Australia (1988) and has edited, with R.M.W. Dixon, two anthologies of Aboriginal Song Poetry. He has written extensively on postwar Australian poetry and publishes monthly reviews of new books of Australian poetry on his website.

Martin Duwell reviews ‘Avenues & Runways’ by Aidan Coleman, ‘Throwing Stones at the Sun’ by Cameron Lowe, and ‘Narcissism’ by Maria Takolander

December 2005–January 2006, no. 277 01 December 2004
Each of these three books is its author’s first, and each carries a cover endorsement by two distinguished poets. You can tell a lot about the books from looking at who endorses whom before you need even to read one of the poems. The rear cover of Aidan Coleman’s Avenues & Runways (endorsements by Kevin Hart and Peter Goldsworthy) describes him as an imagist. Whatever the exact significan ... (read more)

Martin Duwell reviews ‘Urban Myths: 210 poems’ by John Tranter

August 2006, no. 283 01 August 2006
This new and selected poems reminds us, if we needed reminding, just how powerful John Tranter’s cumulated work is. There is a density, an intensity, and a many-sided explorativeness that probably cannot be matched in Australian poetry. Surprisingly, at 210 poems, it is a comparatively small book and has been pretty ruthlessly selected, but there is no doubting the size of its author’s achieve ... (read more)

Martin Duwell reviews 'Extraction of Arrows' by Kathryn Lomer

May 2004, no. 261 01 May 2004
Kathryn Lomer’s Extraction of Arrows is a fine first book. It is more unified than most, but with a varied enough poetic base to make one interested in the poems that Lomer will write in the future. Its essential feature is a tight focus on the self; as lyric poetry should be, it is ‘self-centred’, without any of the pejorative overtones of that phrase. At almost all points, we are aware of ... (read more)

Martin Duwell reviews 'Studio Moon' by John Tranter

November 2003, no. 256 01 November 2003
As one of the few Australian poets with an extensive publishing history overseas as well as in Australia, John Tranter suffers from the problem of what might be called parallel publishing. His UK books are often built out of selections from his Australian books. Just under half the poems in his new book, Studio Moon (published by Salt, and distributed in Australia by the Fremantle Arts Centre Pres ... (read more)

Martin Duwell reviews ‘As We Draw Ourselves’ by Barry Hill

May 2008, no. 301 01 May 2008
This sixth poetry collection by Barry Hill is a fine, intense book of journeying and returns. Poems are based on pilgrimages made in the flesh (to Carrara, to Assisi, to Kyoto) and on those made in the mind as we visit works of art. But there is nothing blandly celebratory about these pilgrimages: the focus is always on the self of the journeyer. Indeed, at a deeper level, its poems are really abo ... (read more)

Martin Duwell reviews 'New and Selected Poems 1973-2002' by Gary Catalano

March 2008, no. 299 01 March 2008
Gary Catalano was, by profession, a writer about art. But he was also a fine poet with a distinctive style. On no account was he neglected – he appears in most anthologies that ought to include him – but he often seemed to be writing in an entirely different idiom from that of his contemporaries. He was difficult to place and thus, perhaps, difficult to appreciate. When he died in his mid-fif ... (read more)

Martin Duwell reviews 'Bark' by Anthony Lawrence

September 2008, no. 304 01 September 2008
Anthony Lawrence is a brilliant poet whose books are surprisingly uneven: this new volume, Bark, though, is a decided success. The best of his poems are usually those which are built around a confrontation between poet (carrying a fairly heavy backpack of personal trauma) and the natural world. This can be quite explicit, as in the fourth poem of a generally comic suite, ‘Bestiary in Open Tuning ... (read more)

Martin Duwell reviews 'The Past Completes Me: Selected poems 1973–2003 ' by Alan Gould

October 2005, no. 275 01 October 2005
Alan Gould’s writing career began in the early 1970s when he was one of the ‘Canberra Poets’. This substantial selection covers thirty years and clearly shows both the achievements and the limitations of his work: I think the former outweigh the latter. One of the strengths of his poetry is a consistent vision; thirty years gives the opportunity for that to be explored in all its ramificatio ... (read more)

Martin Duwell reviews 'Poems for America' by David Rowbotham

April 2003, no. 250 18 October 2022
David Rowbotham is a Queensland poet whose first book was published nearly fifty years ago. His career has a shape that is often found in the arts: a quiet figure whose work is politely rather than rhapsodically received, and whose reputation grows almost by a process of attrition until, eventually, he is one of the few of his contemporaries left standing. It often comes about that a consistent, u ... (read more)

Martin Duwell reviews 'By and Large' by Chris Wallace-Crabbe

September 2001, no. 234 01 September 2001
Chris Wallace-Crabbe’s new book, By and Large, is, despite its hundred pages, a thinner book than most of his recent volumes. The familiar features are there: a baroque and intense intellectual ambit combined with playfulness; a deep love of the sharp ‘thinginess’ of the world combined with a love of the expressiveness of the words we use to contain it; and, last but far from least, enjoyabl ... (read more)
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