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Inkerman & Blunt

Prayers of a Secular World edited by Jordie Albiston and Kevin Brophy

January-February 2016, no. 378

In her introduction to Australian Love Poems (2013), Donna Ward wrote that poems 'are the prayers of a secular world'. Now, aided by editors Jordie Albiston and Kevin Brophy, she brings us a collection that tests this notion. The introduction by David Tacey states its case fervently, with, in this case, a bit too much determination that 'the sacred is inera ...

You are perfect for this story. I will never meet you.’ We are invited into Australian Love Stories and into Bruce Pascoe’s erotic reverie with this line from ‘Dawn’. The reader is embraced, as the luxuriating eye of Pascoe’s narrator embraces the recumbent body of the woman beside him. His gaze is illicit, touch forbidden. We are privileged voyeurs, given temporary access to hidden thoughts and lives. Love. This paltry word hardly describes the myriad guises of friendship, affection, homosexual and heterosexual relationship, desire, lust, loneliness, and satisfaction; the gamut of emotions expressed in the twenty-nine stories editor Cate Kennedy selected from the ‘sea of stories’ she received. I do not have enough room here to mention each singular invocation of love by name. Some stories follow the constraints of realism, others are more expressionistic, but each holds a gift – a kernel of some essential truth about the human condition. The ones I mention simply struck a special chord for me.

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Some things just don’t appear to go together, unless you are good at puzzles. A fox, a goose, and a bag of beans, for instance; or maybe a wolf, a goat, and a cabbage. Then there are Australia, love, and poetry. Australians and poetry can’t be left alone together, can they, and don’t expressions of love ...

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