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Wolf Notes by Judith Beveridge

March 2004, no. 259

Admirer’s of Judith Beveridge’s distinctive talent have had a long wait between collections (it’s eight years since Accidental Grace), although she has been published consistently in anthologies and journals, and poems from the central sequence of this collection, ‘Between the Palace and the Bodhi Tree’, won the 2003 Josephine Ulrick National Poetry Prize. Patience is rewarded: this is a collection of impressive poetic maturity.

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The Sleep of a Learning Man is the sixth verse collection from the gifted and exacting Anthony Lawrence. He has also written a novel. The epigraph to this book gives some hint as to where the poet stands, and where he intends to go. It is from Antonio Porcia: ‘I am chained to the earth to pay for the freedom of my eyes.’ But looking is only one means to find his way, a dilemma that a number of the forty-two poems gathered here confronts.

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Summer Visit by Antigone Kefala & The Island/L’île/To Nisi by Antigone Kefala

August 2003, no. 253

Readers who share Helen Nickas’s view that Antigone Kefala’s fiction forms ‘a continuous narrative which depicts and explores the various stages of an exilic journey’ may be pleased to find more instalments in her fourth book of fiction, Summer Visit. The first of the three novellas is an account of an unsatisfying marriage, told with a controlled detachment that makes its title, ‘Intimacy’, seem ironic. In contrast, the third, ‘Conversations with Mother’, contains a series of elegiac apostrophes of the deceased; the connections with Braila and other congruities with a figure familiar from previous writings again encourage an assumption of autobiography.

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If we lived in the kind of country – and there are some – where people not only chose their presidents but chose as leaders poets, philosophers and novelists, a new novel by Brian Castro would be a sensation, even a political event. Students would be hawking pirated copies, queues would form outside bookshops, long debates would steam up the coffee shops, and the magazines would be full of it. Alas, China and Australia from the 1930s to the 1960s, where Castro takes us in memory, were not such places then any more than they are now.

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