Paul Hetherington reviews 'Towards the Equator' by Alex Skovron

Paul Hetherington reviews 'Towards the Equator' by Alex Skovron

Towards the equator: new and selected poems

by Alex Skovron

Puncher & Wattman, $29.99 pb, 306 pp, 9781922186553

Alex Skovron’s impressive volume of new and selected poems, Towards the Equator, drawn from all of his published work to date, shows him to be a writer of recurrent and abiding preoccupations. He cares passionately and sometimes rather fastidiously about culture (particularly European culture), and continually worries about words, books, and their import. He is formally accomplished, writing sonnets and other complex verse forms as well as delivering a collection of poised ten-line ‘sonnetinas’ and a group of meditative prose poems. He repeatedly questions the import of historical events and currents – in one poem history is ‘our cross and our salvation’ – and frequently quizzes the significance of time.

The prose poem ‘Encounters’ suggests the possibility of ‘a middle path’ between regret and hope – ‘between understanding nothing and too much’. Skovron often adopts this position in his work. His poems are full of hope – for the future of human culture – and certain kinds of regret – a general regret for human violence and intransigence. Mind you, in his ‘middle path’ Skovron knows and understands a great deal. It is just that his poems repeatedly demonstrate a reluctance to overstate his claims on knowledge and understanding.

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Paul Hetherington

Paul Hetherington

Paul Hetherington won the 2014 Western Australian Premier's Book Awards (poetry) and his new collection, Burnt Umber, will be published in May 2016. He is head of the International Poetry Studies Institute (IPSI) at the University of Canberra.

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