Australian Poetry

It’s the voice, isn’t it, of a master, so unmistakably in command of a music that is inseparable from the personal modesty that is its signature, which belies all grandeur and refuses to take credit for the gift but has it nonetheless in abundance. When Craig Sherborne read the last poem in this Selected Poems ...

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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 ...

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Robyn Rowland writes what could be described as a traditionally feminine, aestheticised mode of lyric poetry. Rowland’s poetic landscape is one that shimmers with moonlight, in which one finds cherry blossom and exotic fruit, waterfalls and peacocks, and sensuality (if not sex), and in which the language is always pleasing. Perhaps it is my cultural background – coming from a dour nation of Finns – or the fact that I am a formworker’s daughter, but this world is not familiar to me. Indeed, it seems to belong to a particular tradition of lyric poetry, rather than to any reality. Nevertheless, there is honesty and poignancy in Rowland’s New and Selected Poems, which speak of lost relationships, childbirth, illness, the death of loved ones, and the various individuals and historical events that inspired her interest or hope.

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The deeply troubled Francis Webb, a magician with language, is still one of the two or three most remarkable poets Australia has produced, if nation-states can be said to produce creative artists. His life proved dark and painful, wherever he was located, but he worshipped language, in parallel with his worship of the Christian trinity ...

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100 Australian Poems of Love and Loss is the companion volume to Jamie Grant’s 100 Australian Poems You Need to Know (2008). The title of the new anthology shies away from its predecessor’s imperative mode, but remains a marketer’s dream. What is poetry about if not love and death? What is poetry’s purpose if ...

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A Cool and Shaded Heart by Noel Rowe & Ethical Investigations by Noel Rowe

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March 2011, no. 329

Noel Rowe, poet and critic, was something of an enigma to me. It is hard to believe that he was still in his thirties (just) when I met him in 1990 at the University of Sydney, he a lecturer, I a postgraduate student. Noel seemed to have an enormous wealth of experience, though he was never showy with it ...

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Poet and novelist Ali Alizadeh’s third book of poetry, Ashes in the Air, reclaims some themes from his earlier poetry collection, Eyes in Times of War (2006). Autobiographical sequences once again interweave with accounts of recent wars and oppression. Alizadeh also explores some ...

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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 ...

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Dorothy Hewett is a vivid presence in all her poetry. This selection from her life’s work opens with a poem written in her last year at school.

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A Local Habitation: Poems and Homilies by Peter Steele, edited by Sean Burke

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November 2010, no. 326

Once in a seminar long ago, I heard Peter Steele quote one of Winston Churchill’s more disagreeable opinions, noting that Churchill was allowed to say such things ‘because he was Churchill’. This Churchillian self-definition, or certitude, or authority, or prowess, animates much of Steele’s own writings: Steele says this because he is Steele. Nor does he need to be disagreeable to do so.=

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