The last two lines of Tony Page's Dawn the Proof (Hybrid Publishers, $25 pb, 87 pp, 9781925272239) ask 'how to seize / the grains of now'. One of Page's (implicit) answers is to relate the present to the past – a poem can provide a 'glimpse / through history's chink' – but the relationship is not just to the human past. The title poem concerns 'Geography's vastness', which 'weighs anchor and sails / across the world's mind'. Space and time have a vastness that dwarfs the human, but humans are consequential because they provide consciousness; it takes a human to recognise that vastness. This is a stance which just about constitutes the norm in developed Western nations: agnostic, seeking meaning with due humility, aware of others and conscious of our limited knowledge of them, curious about other times and other cultures, and knowing that some meanings are culturally constituted. It is certainly shared in the three books reviewed here. It is not a bad stance from which to write poetry, and its commonality is something to be celebrated.
Dennis Haskell reviews 'Dawn the Proof' by Tony Page, 'Headwaters' by Anthony Lawrence, and 'Gods and Uncles' by Geoff Page
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Dennis Haskell’s most recent book is Acts of Defiance: New and Selected Poems (2010). He is a Research Fellow at the Westerly Centre, University of Western Australia, and a past Chair of the Australia Council’s Literature Board.
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