When I visited Bruce and Brenda Beaver in their Manly flat it was a sparkling day. The water of the Harbour was glittering, and the pines on the foreshore were stirring only slightly in the breeze. But, however soothing the weather, I was nervous. For me, Bruce Beaver is huge, a poet of the first order, and his extraordinarily difficult life, the periods of debilitating sickness and the various almost mythic stories that attach themselves to his history, all added up to make me feel very nervous indeed.
And his wife, Brenda had made it very clear that my being able to come to see him was a privilege. She protects him fiercely, with constant courage, and if I hadn’t read Bruce Beaver’s superb love poems to this woman, I would have been even more nervous when my companion and I knocked on their door.... (read more)
Despite the protestations of my close friends I choose to regard myself as a normal person. Only at certain times of the year do I realise how tenuous are my links with the mundane world.
One of these troublesome occasions is when I prepare my income tax form.... (read more)
second degree tampering: Writing by women edited by Sybylla Feminist Press
Boundary Conditions: The poetry of Gwen Harwood by Jennifer Strauss
He described himself as a ‘no-hoper’ (he died in a mental hospital in the poverty of his poetry and Catholic faith). These days, the label ‘a poet’s poet’ is sufficient to scare off anyone interested in approaching a body of work that is both substantial and challenging. With the publication of this annotated collection, containing most of Webb’s known poetry and extracts from his verse dramas, it is just a little dispiriting to see Webb’s work acquire a whiff of canonical sanctity. A short, cautious introduction by the editors Michael Griffith and James McGlade concludes with the respectful praises of five eminent Australian poets, as if a show of hands from the panel of distinguished experts were enough to explain anything of the enigma of Frank Webb to someone coming across his work for the first time. I think he deserves more. In an age where packaging plays such a conspicuous role, it is time to rescue Webb from the shrine of Tradition and to make an effort towards attracting new readers to a poet who magnificently defies idle curiosity.... (read more)
In his Canberra 1913–1950 Jim Gibbney summarises the indecisions which accompanied the establishment of a site for Canberra around the turn of the century. When finally, in December 1908, Yass-Canberra was decreed the Seat of Government, it brought to a close nearly two decades of hesitation – at least Australia knew where the Federal Capital was to be situated, if not what kind of city it was to be.... (read more)