Martin Duwell

Martin Duwell was born in England in 1948. He taught for thirty-five years in the School of English, Media Studies and Art History at the University of Queensland, where he received his doctorate in 1988. He is the author of A Possible Contemporary Poetry (1982) and an edition of the selected poems of John Blight. He was one of the editors of the Penguin New Literary History of Australia (1988) and has edited, with R.M.W. Dixon, two anthologies of Aboriginal Song Poetry. He has written extensively on postwar Australian poetry and publishes monthly reviews of new books of Australian poetry on his website.

Mystery agent

June 2013, no. 352 27 May 2013
Mystery agent
There are some poets whose works only seem to come alive when seen in the light of their other poems. Andrew Sant may well be one of these. A Sant poem, read on its own, can often seem thoughtful but rather lightweight; embedded in one of his books, given a context by the surrounding poems, it becomes animated by a set of consistent themes and obsessions. ... (read more)

Martin Duwell reviews 'Cumulus' by Robert Gray

November 2012, no. 346 25 October 2012
Martin Duwell reviews 'Cumulus' by Robert Gray
Cumulus describes itself as a ‘Collected Poems’, and though it isn’t quite that – far too many good poems from the earlier volumes have been omitted – there is a strong sense of cumulation and self-evaluation about it: it is a lot more than a set of copied contents pages sent to a publisher. And it is satisfying that the result, thanks to the high design standards of John Leonard Press, ... (read more)

Martin Duwell reviews 'Here, There and Elsewhere' by Vivian Smith

June 2012, no. 342 22 May 2012
Martin Duwell reviews 'Here, There and Elsewhere' by Vivian Smith
This new book of Vivian Smith’s is really quite a surprise. If it were the case of any other poet approaching his eighties you might think of it as rather a grab bag, knocked together out of odds and ends. It is made up of an imaginary biography of ‘Ern Malley’; another set of sonnets, ‘Diary Without Dates’, mainly dealing with momentary meetings; a small group of sonnets imagined as pos ... (read more)

Martin Duwell reviews 'The Welfare of My Enemy' by Anthony Lawrence

April 2012, no. 340 01 April 2012
Martin Duwell reviews 'The Welfare of My Enemy' by Anthony Lawrence
The Welfare of My Enemy is an unusual experiment in narrative poetry. Taking as its theme ‘the disappeared’, it is a set of narratives, a kind of anthology that imaginatively documents the myriad ways in which (and the different reasons for which) people go ‘off the radar’ and end up as missing persons. It is made up of fifty-odd individual poems, all in loosely rhymed couplets, few more t ... (read more)

Martin Duwell reviews 'Slo-Mo Tsunami and Other Poems' by Bruce Dawe

December 2011–January 2012, no. 337 24 November 2011
Martin Duwell reviews 'Slo-Mo Tsunami and Other Poems' by Bruce Dawe
The title of Bruce Dawe’s first collection, No Fixed Address (1962), pointed to an early working life of innumerable casual jobs. This was covered to some extent in Stephany Steggall’s excellent biography, Bruce Dawe: Life Cycle (2009). As the working life of an Australian poet, this would be incomprehensible now (it seems closer to the world of John Shaw Neilson), but I mention these early de ... (read more)

Martin Duwell reviews 'Colombine: New and selected poems' by Jennifer Harrison

February 2011, no. 328 04 May 2011
Martin Duwell reviews 'Colombine: New and selected poems' by Jennifer Harrison
Colombine selects from Jennifer Harrison’s four previous collections and adds a book-length group of new poems. In keeping with current practice, the new poems precede the selections, so that anyone wanting to consider Harrison’s twenty-year poetic career in terms of development has to begin some seventy pages in with the poems from her first book, Michelangelo’s Prisoners (1995). You met a ... (read more)

Martin Duwell reviews 'Acts of Defiance: New and selected poems' by Dennis Haskell

April 2011, no. 330 26 March 2011
Martin Duwell reviews 'Acts of Defiance: New and selected poems' by Dennis Haskell
First books often suffer most in a Selected Poems as the poet who finally emerges from the possibilities explored in the poems of the first book retrospectively weeds out those poems that are not in what becomes the dominant mode. This certainly happens in the case of Dennis Haskell’s Acts of Defiance, which prunes his first book, Listening at Night (1984), down to a mere seven poems. So Acts of ... (read more)
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