Real treasures in a generous anthology of the ‘best’
THE BEST AUSTRALIAN POEMS 2011
edited by John Tranter
Black Inc., $24.95 pb, 206 pp, 9781863955492
With the recent focus on new anthologies in the Australian poetry community firmly placed on UNSW Press’s Australian Poetry Since 1788 (edited by Geoffrey Lehmann and Robert Gray) and the publication of two anthologies dedicated to the work of younger poets (UQP’s Thirty Australian Poets and John Leonard Press’s Young Poets), the arrival of Best Australian Poems 2011 could seem almost like an afterthought. Nonetheless, as always, this annual anthology deserves attention because it acts as the yearbook of Australian poetry, reporting on the state of the craft as seen by the year’s editor. This year John Tranter is in the driver’s seat, and his sensibility is substantially different from those of other recent anthologists. Tranter, the author of more than twenty poetry collections, has also been an influential editor, both as the founding editor of the pioneer online journal Jacket and as co-editor of The Penguin Book of Modern Australian Poetry (1991). Tranter was a natural choice to take over from Robert Adamson (2009–10) as editor of The Best Australian Poems.