David McCooey reviews 'Falling and Flying' edited by Judith Beveridge and Susan Ogle

Ever since the baby boomers hit middle age, the supposed gerontophobia of their youth has been sent back to them with interest. One-liners from the 1960s – such as Pete Townshend's 'I hope I die before I get old' and Jack Weinberg's 'Don't trust anyone over thirty' – have circulated in popular culture like ghostly refrains haunting an entire generation. Falling and Flying, an anthology of contemporary Australian poems on ageing, is explicitly presented as a resource 'for the baby-boomers who are approaching old age'.

Edited by a doctor–poet, Susan Ogle, and one of Australia's leading poets, Judith Beveridge, Falling and Flying is also illustrated by Richard Wu, a psychiatrist and artist. Any publisher that takes on poetry and ageing and illustration deserves our admiration. This project shows the importance of independent publishers to Australian literary culture. In this case, the raison d'être for the collection is also conspicuously functionalist for a work of poetry and visual art. In addition to addressing their collection to the baby boomer generation, the editors also present the anthology as a clinical resource 'for older people and their carers, doctors, medical students, health-care professionals, or indeed any student of medicine and life'.

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Published in March 2016, no. 379

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