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Martin Langford

Flight Animals by Bronwyn Lea & Sensual Horizon by Martin Langford

December 2001–January 2002, no. 237

Seamless with his two previous collections, Behind the Moon is Jacob Rosenberg’s potted autobiography of a survivor of Lodz and Auschwitz, delivered from that hell, of which he writes with the kindness of an angel, into the heaven that Melbourne must then logically be. To be the poet of reality and not self-delusion is his reality, is his commission. The trouble he contends with is that his present is posthumous, for the contemporary world could never be charged with such reality. Heaven doesn’t exist.

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Contemporary Australian Poetry edited by Martin Langford et. al.

March 2017, no. 389

According to The Magic Pudding, Bunyip Bluegum’s erudition is established through his ability to ‘converse on a great variety of subjects, having read all the best Australian poets’, a questionable achievement in Norman Lindsay’s day. A glance through the Annals of Australian Literature reveals the paucity of quality Australian poetry volum ...

In their very different ways, these three collections attest that contemporary Australian poetry is alive, robust, and engaging.

Puncher and Wattmann have delivered a generous collection of Martin Langford's most recent poems, Ground ($25 pb, 158 pp, 9781922186751). As we have come to expect from Langford, the voice we find here is strong – passio ...

If despair and desolation can be said to have had a high point in poetry in English during the modern era, it is in T.S. Eliot’s poetry, particularly ‘The Hollow Men’. While reading Martin Langford’s remarkable The Human Project: New & Selected Poems, I was reminded of other poets whose reputations depend upon the discomforting poems they have written. The until recently neglected American poet Weldon Kees, who may or may not have jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge in 1955, wrote about the underside of the American dream, its sterility, in a tone of unwavering bitterness, but his noirish imagination and technical brilliance make the poems compelling. Something similar could be said of the English poet Peter Reading, whose expression of undiminished anger is a result of his disgust with humanity, and its condition terminal, though his pervasive self-righteousness can be wearing.

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‘Sydney in verse’: this anthology, arranged chronologically, presents the country’s oldest European settlement in a variety of guises – from place of exile (‘Botany Bay’) to site resistant to the colonising discourses of English Romanticism (W.C. Wentworth, Charles Harpur) to new city viewed through the lenses of symbolism (Christopher Brennan) and modernism (Kenneth Slessor), and from there to the locus of the universal, crossnational themes of joy, suffering and loss.

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Microtexts by Martin Langford

August 2006, no. 283

Microtexts (Island Press, $21.95 pb, 93 pp) is a set of aphoristic prose pieces grouped under the following chapter headings: ‘Poetry and the Narrative of the Self’; ‘Poetry and Poetics’; ‘Writing’; ‘Art’; ‘Reading’; ‘Critics and Criticism’. It is not academic literary theory, but personal and professional musings by a poet with five collections to his credit. Martin Langford’s poetry adopts a lyric voice which, to my ear, sounds variations on the ground-bass of a slightly lugubrious, melancholy tone. It is idiosyncratic and not unpleasant: ‘time we outwitted / behaviour, the sad primate life’ (from his poem ‘Lake Coila’).

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