The Land’s Meaning: New Selected Poems
Fremantle Press, $27.95 pb, 229 pp, 9781921888090
Randolph Stow, who died in 2010 aged seventy-four, must now be considered part of the Australian canon, whether that concept is conceived broadly or as a smaller cluster of Leavisian peaks. This status derives from his eight novels, which include the Miles Franklin Award-winner To the Islands (1958), the celebrated children’s book Midnite: The Story of a Wild Colonial Boy (1967), the much studied The Merry-go-round in theSea (1965), and the book that many (including me) think his masterpiece, Visitants (1979). However, Stow’s first major award (in 1957) was the Gold Medal of the Australian Literature Society for his collection of poems Act One (1957); he later won the Grace Leven Prize for A Counterfeit Silence: Selected Poems of Randolph Stow (1969), and he wrote poetry for most of his life. Stow said of his novels and poetry that they were ‘very closely related’, ‘one … just a different version of the other’. Thus, John Kinsella and Fremantle Press deserve commendation for bringing us Stow’s poems in the most comprehensive selection yet published.