Susan Sheridan reviews 'Collected' by Rosemary Dobson


by Rosemary Dobson

University of Queensland Press, $27.95 pb, 378 pp, 9780702239113

This volume contains all the poems that Rosemary Dobson wants to preserve. They represent a substantial portion of her output, which seems right for a poet who began with a degree of quiet confidence and poise that belied her youth. From the earliest, published when she was in her twenties, to the latest, dictated only last year by the ninety-year-old poet to her daughter, the poems attest to the consistency of her achievement, and to the depth and range of her craft. Like their creator, the poems have aged well. The qualities she prizes – clarity, even austerity, and ‘an edge of wit’ – are there from first to last, impervious to changes of fashion and able to accommodate changes in sensibility. ‘In a Convex Mirror’, the title poem of her first book, begins:

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Susan Sheridan

Susan Sheridan

Susan Sheridan FAHA is Emeritus Professor in the School of Humanities at Flinders University in Adelaide. Her latest book is The Fiction of Thea Astley (2016). Earlier books include: Nine Lives: Postwar Women Writers Making Their Mark (2011), Christina Stead (1988), Along the Faultlines: Sex, Race and Nation in Australian Women’s Writing 1880s to 1930s (1995), and Who Was That Woman? The Australian Women’s Weekly in the Postwar Years (2002); as editor, Grafts: Feminist Cultural Criticism (1988), Debutante Nation: Feminism Contests the 1890s (1993) with Sue Rowley and Susan Magarey, and Thea Astley’s Fictional Worlds (2006), with Paul Genoni.

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