The habit of drift

The habit of drift

What the Afternoon Knows

by Ron Pretty

Pitt Street Poetry, $25 pb, 114 pp, 9781922080165

It is reasonable that poets, by the time they reach their mid-seventies, should be involved in projects which re-evaluate their current lives and poems in the light of early experience and expectations. This most recent book of Ron Pretty’s – and it is by some distance his best – is built around the Swedish proverb, ‘The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected,’ treated not as an opportunity to gloat over the wisdom which age is supposed to bring but instead to puzzle out the weird discrepancies and disjunctions between the two states of ‘what-I-was-then’ and ‘what-I-am-now’.

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Published in February 2014 no. 358
Martin Duwell

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.

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