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Andrew Burns

Andrew Burns is a Melbourne-based journalist. After graduating from the University of Melbourne in 2005, he worked as a columnist and reporter for the Herald Sun before moving to the ABC in 2013.

Andrew Burns reviews ‘Romancing Opiates: Pharmacological lies and the addiction bureaucracy’ by Theodore Dalrymple

September 2007, no. 294 01 September 2007
Theodore Dalrymple’s latest book, Romancing Opiates, slams societal and professional attitudes to heroin addiction. Dalrymple argues that heroin users are not blameless patients, as the medical fraternity would have us believe. ln fact, he tells us, heroin users have to work quite hard to get addicted; withdrawal is about as difficult as the flu; and the support industry, which he calls the ‘a ... (read more)

Andrew Burns reviews 'Eclogues: Newcastle Poetry Prize Anthology 2007' edited by Martin Harrison, John Jenkins and Jan Owen

June 2008, no. 302 01 June 2008
The moon rising ‘nicotine-stained and peaceable / into the fingers of the silver trees’, arid land freshly rained on ‘like a dark sticky biscuit’, and a cow’s head like a ‘rounded anvil’: these are images plucked from the winning and highly commended poems of Mark Tredinnick, Barry Hill and Andrew Slattery, respectively, from last year’s Newcastle Poetry Prize. Notice the bucolic t ... (read more)

Andrew Burns reviews 'Wet Ink, No. 10' edited by Phillip Edmonds and Dominique Wilson

July–August 2008, no. 303 30 November 2023
‘Science fiction and fantasy’ is the cover theme of Wet Ink. Not all the contributions adhere to it. Michael Welding’s essay on utopias and dystopias is a good introduction to the theory surrounding literary projections of both idyllic and apocalyptic futures. He notes that, before white settlement, the antipodes was often the subject of fantasy, referring to Robert Paltock’s The Life and ... (read more)

Andrew Burns reviews 'Blast, No. 7' edited by Ann Nugent

July–August 2008, no. 303 01 July 2008
Blast reinvented itself as a poetry-centric magazine in March 2005, and is now something akin to the Chicago-based Poetry – a lot of poetry, followed by critical writing about poetry – though Blast is shorter and Australian. Like Poetry, it is an upper-echelon affair, born from a philosophy of quality. The problem with the new Blast, for better or for worse, is that many of the same names keep ... (read more)

Andrew Burns reviews 'Going Down Swinging, No. 26' edited by Steve Grimwade and Lisa Greenway

July–August 2008, no. 303 01 July 2008
A journal with an ego, Going Down Swinging (GDS) is not afraid of blowing its own trumpet. There are two editorials: Steve Grimwade’s, written in the voice of his infant son, claims that GDS is the ‘finest literary journal on the planet’ – but this is cheeky enthusiasm, not arrogance. Lisa Greenaway’s editorial is best summed up thus: ‘we want the people who never pick up a literary ma ... (read more)

Andrew Burns reviews 'Camera Obscura' by Kathryn Lomer

October 2008, no. 305 01 October 2008
Kathryn Lomer’s collection of short stories is ‘show, don’t tell’ storytelling with an emphasis on atmosphere instead of rapid plot movement. The best stories don’t have twists but end with a shift in perspective, a small victory or a solemn realisation. The book’s title is fitting: like the pinhole camera used by artists to isolate a single scene, Lomer’s stories are narrow in both ... (read more)

Andrew Burns reviews 'The Sweeping Plain' by Michael Sharkey

July–August 2007, no. 293 01 July 2007
The title poem of Michael Sharkey’s The Sweeping Plain – his first book of poetry since the retrospective History: Selected Poems 1978–2000 (2002) – is a polemic against politically conservative suburbia. The poem portrays a desert-like ‘sweeping plain’ of insularity, never-ending and utterly homogenous: ‘They look at others like themselves / in their home entertainment centres, / kn ... (read more)

Andrew Burns reviews 'Permitted To Fall' by Kevin Gillam

December 2007–January 2008, no. 297 01 December 2007
Kevin Gillam is director of music at Christ Church Grammar School, in Western Australia. The musician’s lexicon and mindset permeate Permitted to Fall, revealing a life lived through music, as in ‘Not Clockless’: ‘as a kid, from the back / seat, power lines were staves, sky unplayed.’ The acts of playing and performing music also feature thematically, as in the narrative poem ‘The Poss ... (read more)

Andrew Burns reviews 'Handfeeding the Crocodile' by Gina Mercer

October 2007, no. 295 01 October 2007
Gina Mercer is not a prolific poet, and reading her latest collection it is evident that her poems are not written in haste. It has been eight years since her first, well-received book Oceans in the Kitchen (1999). More recently, she was featured in the Wagtail booklet series, where it would seem that many of the poems in Handfeeding the Crocodile have already appeared, in addition to their origin ... (read more)