Robert Harris

Don’t feel sorry about it, if you remember
blue Darlinghurst nights like particular quilts
a generation of painters saw
before we arrived there, or found ourselves

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In a letter to a friend, American poet James Wright reflected on the meaning of a Selected Poems for a peer he considered undervalued: ‘It shows that defeat, though imminent for all of us, is not inevitable.’ He quoted ...

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Some of the wildly successful historical novels of Richard Harris are counter-factual, like Fatherland (1992), which assumes a successful Nazi invasion of Britain. By contrast, his most recent work, An Officer and a Spy (2013), builds on a highly detailed account of the Dreyfus affair, which convulsed France in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries ...

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This book signals a dramatic shift in the poetry of Robert Harris. His three previous books – Localities (1973), Translations from the Albatross (1976), The Abandoned (1979) – were born out of an intense and self-propelling passion for the glitter and the glow of words, the power they have to transform reality through a kind of internal poetic combustion. This was a poetry laden with abstraction and with quasi­surrealist imagery, heavily influenced by the French symbolists, by American poets like Robert Duncan, and in particular by the Australian poet Robert Adamson. Some of it stands up pretty well, though there was always the tendency for the verse to veer out of control, overblown and unfocused in the headiness of its phrasing.

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