The high priest of Australian formalists

The Red Sea: New and Selected Poems

by Stephen Edgar

Baskerville Publishers, US$19.95 hb, 112 pp, 9781880909782

Stephen Edgar shows us the dazzling pleasures of poetrythat is ‘strictly ballroom’. Some years ago in a Greek restaurant, I was having lunch with Edgar, Martin Harrison, and Robert Gray. My fellow diners began excitedly discussing the finer technical points of a range of verse meters. Edgar said that he had written poems using sprung verse, syllabics, and regularly accented meters. I became as quiet as a nun who finds herself in the middle of an animated conversation about the Kama Sutra. Fixed forms alarm me. I have never attempted a conventional sonnet in the Shakespearean or Petrarchan form, a technical exercise that is as elementary for Edgar as is a handstand for an acrobat. My competence in using fixed forms does not extend much beyond the traditional iambic pentameter with its five reassuring dee-dums per line.

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Published in October 2012 no. 345
Geoffrey Lehmann

Geoffrey Lehmann

Geoffrey Lehmann has published seven collections of poems, a Selected Poems, and a Collected Poems, and was the first Australian poet to be published by Faber & Faber. He has co-edited with Robert Gray three anthologies of Australian poetry and has edited two anthologies of Australian humorous verse. He has also published a novel, two children's books, and Australian Primitive Painters, a book of art criticism. He was for some years a tax lawyer with an international accounting firm.

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