Paul Hetherington

What is it about English language poetry that has proved so resistant to the lure of the prose poem? The French, it appears, held no such qualms, finding themselves besotted with the form ever since Aloysius Bertrand and Charles Baudelaire began dispensing with line breaks and stanzas. Of course, the very existence of English-language works like Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons (1914) or William Carlos Williams’s Kora in Hell (1920) could be used to argue otherwise, but such endeavours were considered too eccentric at the time to impart a lasting legacy. Perhaps if T.S. Eliot, whose antipathy towards the prose poem is well known, had given us a major cycle along the lines of Saint-John Perse’s Anabasis (1924), a work he admired and translated, things might have turned out differently.

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Belated recognition of Australian prose poetry

Paul Hetherington and Cassandra Atherton
Thursday, 24 September 2020

Until recently, Australian prose poetry hasn’t attracted much attention – we’re not sure why. Having written prose poetry for years, we’re both fascinated by the form, which can be loosely defined as poems written in paragraphs and sentences rather than in stanzas and lines.

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Paul Hetherington reviews 'The New Dark Age' by Joan London

Paul Hetherington
Thursday, 20 February 2020

Over the last couple of decades in Australia, short fiction has been a poor cousin to the literary novel. While this country continues to produce fine writers of short fiction, many of them struggle to achieve book publication of their works. Larger publishers often seem no more interested in collections of short fiction than they are in poetry collections. Their argument: short fiction, like poetry, does not sell. It has often been left to smaller Australian publishers to produce and promote short fiction writers, who are sometimes taken up by a major publisher if they achieve a notable success with a longer work.

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Paul Hetherington reviews 'The Poet: A novella' by Alex Skovron

Paul Hetherington
Friday, 11 October 2019

The Poet is an unusual book. Dispensing with many of the conventions that underpin most extended works of prose fiction, such as significant characterisation, it presents a central protagonist, Manfred, who is ‘honest’ – as the author repeatedly states. Manfred is also a poet. The novella is written in formal and refined prose, as if the narrative style is designed to reflect Manfred’s obsessional nature and estranged condition: he has never been ‘in love’, is ‘something of a loner’ and is highly anxious.

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Poetry books that focus on memory, recuperation, and loss are common, but it is rare to find poems that speak about such matters as sparely and eloquently as these do. Bill Manhire’s new poems are bony and sinewy, resonating with an awareness of public and personal grief. Although these works often speak by indirection, many of them pack a real punch. As Manhire p ...

Paul Hetherington is Poet of the Month

Australian Book Review
Thursday, 30 March 2017

Which poets have most influenced you? In the 1980s I read Emily Dickinson’s poetry intensively, and I suspect that her superbly compressed work is ingrained within me. In late adolescence I loved the musicality of W.B. Yeats, and later I grew to admire W.H. Auden’s complexities and clarity. I dwelt for a while in the evocations of New Zealander Lauris Edmond. Recently, I have been reading the tensile work of Tusiata Avia with great enjoyment. Many Australian poets, including Judith Wright and Rosemary Dobson, have influenced my writing.

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'Ship', a new poem by Paul Hetherington

Paul Hetherington
Tuesday, 28 March 2017

The abandoned ship was there one morning – a new broken headland –
shiny, sitting high on the low tide, with hundreds of windows like
blinking oval spectacles. Over months the view became fractured;
someone dubbed it the Marie Celeste ‘beached at last’ and a group of us

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Books of the Year 2016

Sheila Fitzpatrick et al.
Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Originally published in German, Albrecht Dümling’s The Vanished Musicians: Jewish refugees in Australia (Peter Lang), a fascinating compendium of Jewish musicians who found refuge in Australia in the 1930s and 1940s, is now available in Australian Diana K. Weekes’s excellent translation ...

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In this episode of Australian Book Review's States of Poetry podcast, Paul Hetherington reads 'Gap' and 'River' which feature in the 2016 ACT anthology.

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for TAW
(from 'Paintings')

This black dress
is also a painting –
it hangs on a wall
where light holds it close.
It's a doorway to places
no-one quite knows;
that bloom and rain
with extravagant vistas.

We've sometimes entered
into the painting
dipping dark hats,
watching children
riding down lanes

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