Selected Writings

Jennifer Maiden’s first books, Tactics (1974) and The Problem of Evil (1975), introduced a fantastically complex and enquiring poetry, with strangely fragmentary assemblages of character wrought from conflict. Both books were partly inspired by television’s gory nightly footage of the Vietnam War ...

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Thea Astley had a way with words. Her novels are studded with arresting metaphors, atrocious puns, hilarious one-liners, arcane words, technical terms from music, geometry and logic, religious and literary allusions. Her verbal pyrotechnics can be dazzling and infuriating, in equal measure: as Helen Garner once wrote, it is ...

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Paul Muldoon’s friend and mentor, the late Seamus Heaney, once remarked that reading Muldoon was like being in a room with two informants: one a compulsive liar and one who always tells the truth. The trick, Heaney suggested, is ‘trying to formulate a question that will elicit an answer from either one that can be reliably decoded’.

Muldoon’s poems a ...

This manifesto for free verse comes from a poet whose associates at the time included Harold Monro, Richard Aldington, and D.H. Lawrence in London, Harriet Monroe and Louis Untermeyer in New York, Natalie Clifford Barney in Paris. Anna Wickham (1883–1947) mixed with the modernist writers and artists of her time on both sides of the Atlantic and was widely admired for her early books, The Contemplative Quarry (1915), The Man with a Hammer (1916), and The Little Old House (1921).

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Selected Poems from Les Fleurs du mal by Charles Baudelaire, translated by Jan Owen

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January-February 2016, no. 378

The Flowers of Evil (Les Fleurs du mal, 1857) is the most celebrated and most influential collection of verse in the history of modern French poetry. Its author, Charles Baudelaire (1821–67), is seen as the embodiment of a sensibility we regard as 'modern'. T.S. Eliot called him 'the greatest exemplar of modern poetry in any language'.

Ba ...

Philosophers fear many things, as do economists, lawyers, politicians, and electricians. But there is one thing philosophers fear which is special to their profession. It is the question, asked as it might be at a dinner party or in a taxi on the way to the airport, ‘What is it that you do, exactly?’ with perhaps a somewhat intimidating emphasis on the word ‘exactly’. Often – too often – we philosophers take the easy way out. We reply that questions like: Does God exist? Is there an objective basis to morality? Is a commitment to equality simply a commitment to equality of opportunity? What makes a society a just one? are, we can all agree, important questions, and that they are the kinds of questions philosophers concern themselves with.

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In appraising the poet Peter Porter, David Malouf writes that ‘the world we inhabit is a vast museum – call it History, or Art, or the History of Art. For Porter, the exhibits were still alive and active.’ So it is with Malouf himself: his world includes Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, the awful and bloody twentieth century, a Brisbane childhood, and much more – including an abiding intellectual embrace of great writers and great writing.

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Evan Jones’s Selected Poems is more than timely: its author was born in 1931. In an introduction (or ‘Personal Appreciation’), fellow Melbourne poet Alex Skovron complains that ‘Evan’s work has not always received the attention it deserves, especially in recent years’. It is worth pausing a moment to consider why this should be so.

Jones i ...

What’s on a judge’s mind? Litigants and advocates would love to know. Former judge Peter Heerey answers that question in his latest book, a compendium of writing over many years, covering a vast array of topics and in myriad forms.

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The Best 100 Poems of Gwen Harwood by Gwen Harwood, edited by John Harwood

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December 2014, no. 367

In ‘Late Works’, the last poem in Black Inc.’s new selection of Gwen Harwood’s poetry, a dying poet, determined to pen her ‘late great’ poems, calls from her hospital bed for paper. The nurse, misunderstanding, brings toilet paper, much to the poet’s chagrin. It is a typical Harwood inversion ...

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