Black Pepper

The Hanging of Jean Lee is the third verse novel I have reviewed recently, except that this one is closer to the verse documentary.

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Toby Davidson’s first collection, Beast Language, was published nine years ago. That feels surprising: its freshness then makes it feel more recent now. Much of the movement in that book is present in his new collection, Four Oceans (Puncher & Wattmann, $25 pb, 93 pp), literally so, as we begin with a long sequence aboard the Indian Pacific from Perth to Sydney. It’s his younger self again, leaving home for the ‘eastern states’, but with an esprit de l’escalier twist, as that younger self gets to see and describe everything with the eye and language of the older, freer, more assured Davidson.

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Stephen Edgar, over the past two decades or so, has earned himself an assured place in contemporary Australian poetry (even in English-language poetry more generally) as its pre-eminent and most consistent formalist. His seemingly effortless poems appear in substantial overseas journals, reminding readers that rhyme and traditional metre have definitely not outlived their usefulness.

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Sarah Day’s début collection, A Hunger to Be Less Serious (1987), married lightness of touch with depth of insight. In Towards Light & Other Poems (Puncher & Wattmann, $25 pb, 108 pp, 9781925780024), Day continues this project in poems concerned with light, a thing presented as both ...

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After Stephen Edgar’s nine collections of poetry, the last seven of which are distinguished by an extraordinary control over metre and rhyme, a reviewer feels bound to ask how this new book ...

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Exhibits of the Sun is Stephen Edgar’s tenth collection of poems. Born in 1951, he is now ripe for a major Collected Poems. With careful pruning of some lesser pieces, such a book will display the full range of his work, which marries virtuosic technique with powerful emotion and intellect.

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Todd Turner’s first collection, Woodsmoke, evolves intriguingly. It starts in the ‘anti-pastoral’ mode founded by Philip Hodgins. Here the poet, long since relocated to the city, looks back with tellingly evocative detail but a divided sensibility on the life he (it’s normally a ‘he’) has now abandoned.

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150 Motets by Homer Rieth

by
April 2013, no. 350

Although the Melbourne publisher Black Pepper has a stable of major Australian poets (Stephen Edgar and Jennifer Harrison among them), it is also a house that likes to take chances. The favourable reception accorded Homer Rieth’s 359-page epic poem, Wimmera, in 2009 was defin ...

How to review a book that includes, as major characters, Simpson and his donkey, the Dig Tree, and a bus that may or may not be a tram?

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Colombine selects from Jennifer Harrison’s four previous collections and adds a book-length group of new poems. In keeping with current practice, the new poems precede the selections, so that anyone wanting to consider Harrison’s twenty-year poetic career in terms of development has to begin ...

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