Perhaps the most encouraging sign in this Puncher & Wattmann collection of critical essays on contemporary Australian poets is the prominent ‘1’ on its front cover, promising that this will be the first in a series. Given that last year’s Contemporary Australian Poetry anthology by the same publisher featured more than two hundred poets, only fourteen of whom are featured for discussion here, this suggests the possibility of a sizeable number of subsequent volumes. The value of such a project cannot be understated: as the editors note in their introduction, the contemporary Australian poetry scene is a particularly vital area of our literature, and the task of ‘grappling with [its] bewildering diversity’ is insufficiently addressed by our current review culture, as well as in academic publications and research funding. It is also noticeably neglected in ‘literary’ forums such as writers’ festivals.
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