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James Jiang on three new poetry collections

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August 2020, no. 423

James Jiang on three new poetry collections

by
August 2020, no. 423

Mount Sumptuous by Aidan ColemanMount Sumptuous by Aidan Coleman

Wakefield Press, $22.95 pb, 56 pp

Mount Parnassus remains a proscribed destination for the moment, but Aidan Coleman’s Mount Sumptuous provides an attractive local alternative. Following on from the poems of love and recovery in Asymmetry (2012), this collection marks the poet’s reawakened appetite for the sublimities and subterfuges of suburban Australia, from cricket pitches ‘lit like billiard tables’ and Blue Light Discos to the flammable wares of Best & Less and the implacable red brick of ‘all-meat / towns’. As these poems and their pseudo-pedagogical endnotes show, Coleman is a keen philologist of the language of commerce. The title’s ‘sumptuous’ (from the Latin sumptus for ‘expense’) keys us in to the vital ambivalence of a poetry, which on the one hand honours the rituals of everyday consumption (‘lounging / book in hand, Tim Tams / … tea a given’), and on the other speaks to the exploitative logic of consumer capitalism (‘Take the juiceless fruits / of day labour and a white / goods salesman’s leaden chicanery’).