Geoffrey Lehmann

At night I sit on the brick patio of a beach house at Currarong with a garden of flannel flowers and kangaroo paws. I listen to the ocean through a windbreak of low eucalypts and banksias, just a hundred paces away.

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The poet James McAuley once told a group of Sydney university students – ‘forcefully’,  as Geoffrey Lehmann recalls – that poets should have a career unconnected with literature. Lehmann had already imbibed a related injunction from his mother:  ‘One day she told me I should become a lawyer and a writer ...

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Exhibits of the Sun is Stephen Edgar’s tenth collection of poems. Born in 1951, he is now ripe for a major Collected Poems. With careful pruning of some lesser pieces, such a book will display the full range of his work, which marries virtuosic technique with powerful emotion and intellect.


For the poet W.S. Graham, running away from Scotland ‘with my money belt of Northern ice’ at the age of nineteen, London was the ‘golden city’ in his poem ‘The Night City’. Graham ‘found Eliot and he said yes // And sprang into a Holmes cab. / Boswell passed me in the fog / Going to visit Whistler who / Was with John Donne …’ For other poets in thi ...

Stephen Edgar shows us the dazzling pleasures of poetry that is ‘strictly ballroom’. Some years ago in a Greek restaurant, I was having lunch with Edgar, Martin Harrison, and Robert Gray. My fellow diners began excitedly discussing the finer technical points of a range of verse meters ...

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With 1086 pages of poems and critical biographies, Australian Poetry Since 1788 – the third anthology co-edited by Robert Gray and myself – is by far the largest anthology of Australian poetry to date, and at least twice the size of its predecessors. Perhaps controversially, it has fewer poets than many earlier anthologies, with only 174 named poets. Bu ...

Children’s Games by Geoffrey Lehmann & The House of Vitriol by Peter Rose

November 1990, no. 126

How different can two books be? Peter Rose’s first book, The House of Vitriol, is one of the first off the rank for the new Picador poetry series – and a sign of things to come. It is mercurial where Lehmann is mild. Rose’s style is very distinct: gaudy and revved up from the start.

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What a delight it is to read a collection of contemporary poetry which is not only good but entertaining and capable of arousing emotions – and the delight is intensified because the experience is so rare. Most Australian poets that I have read recently seem to think that the exercise of writing, for example ‘happy days / lost in lust’ justifies them in putting ‘poet’ instead of ‘esq.’ after their names. Geoffrey Lehmann is not one of these. On the strength of his recent book, Nero’s Poems: Translations of the Public and Private Poems of the Emperor Nero, published by Angus and Robertson, it can be seen that Mr Lehmann justly deserves the title ‘poet’, even though, for the duration of the book, we are asked to suspend our belief and attribute the poems to the Emperor Nero himself.

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