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David McCooey

David McCooey is a prize-winning poet, critic, and editor. His latest collection of poems is The Book of Falling, published by Upswell Publishing (2023). His first collection, Blister Pack (2005), won the Mary Gilmore Award and was shortlisted for four major national literary awards. He is a professor of literature and writing at Deakin University in Geelong, where he lives. His website is:

David McCooey reviews 'Empirical' by Lisa Gorton

October 2019, no. 415 25 September 2019
In her latest collection of poems, Empirical, Lisa Gorton demonstrates – definitively and elegantly – how large, apparently simple creative decisions (employing catalogues or lists; quoting from the archive; engaging in ekphrasis or description) can produce compelling and complex poetic forms. Empirical shows continuities with Gorton’s two earlier collections, especially with regard to a re ... (read more)

David McCooey reviews 'Hoi Polloi' by Craig Sherborne

September 2005, no. 274 01 September 2005
A laughing man, according to Flaubert, is stronger than a suffering one. But as Craig Sherborne’s extraordinary new memoir of childhood and youth shows, the distinction isn’t that simple. There is much to laugh at in Hoi Polloi, but this is also a book suffused with pain and suffering. Sherborne is both a powerful satirist and a poet of vulnerability. The poems by Sherborne included in The Bes ... (read more)

David McCooey reviews 'The Twelfth of Never: A memoir' by Louis Nowra

April 2000, no. 219 01 April 2000
Louis Nowra was born in 1950 and is – as he presents himself in this memoir – that very mid­-century thing, an outsider. An outsider in terms of class, mental constitution, and sexuality (for a time), Nowra suffers a worse, and originary, alienation from his mother. Being born on the fifth anniversary of his mother’s shooting of her father, Nowra’s existence is caught between dysfuncti ... (read more)

David McCooey reviews 'A Passing Bell: Ghazals for Tina' by Paul Kane

December 2018, no. 407 26 November 2018
Rarely does one come across a book that is both intensely ‘literary’ – stylised, sophisticated, deeply engaged with its antecedents – and achingly moving, so viscerally raw that it takes one’s breath away. A Passing Bell: Ghazals for Tina – an elegy-sequence for Tina Kane, to whom Paul Kane was married for thirty-six years – is such a work. Kane’s use of the ghazal is an inspired ... (read more)

David McCooey reviews 'Towards Light & Other Poems' by Sarah Day, 'Anywhy' by Jennifer Harrison, and 'Warlines' by Jordie Albiston

November 2018, no. 406 26 October 2018
Sarah Day’s début Towards Light & Other Poems by Sarah Daycollection, A Hunger to Be Less Serious (1987), married lightness of touch with depth of insight. In Towards Light & Other Poems (Puncher & Wattmann, $25 pb, 108 pp, 9781925780024), Day continues this project in poems concerned with light, a thing presented as both transformative and transformable. In ‘Reservoir’, for ins ... (read more)

States of Poetry Series Two - Victoria | State Editor's Introduction by David McCooey

States of Poetry Victoria - Series Two 05 June 2018
In an age when the news is relentlessly bad, it is tempting to think that we can turn to poetry as either a flight from the pathological politics of our time, or a higher commentary on it. As the poets in this year’s Victorian States of Poetry Anthology show, poetry’s relationship with the news of the day is more complex than that. Chris Wallace-Crabbe, now in his mid eighties, continues his ... (read more)

David McCooey reviews 'Who Reads Poetry: 50 views from Poetry Magazine' edited by Fred Sasaki and Don Share

May 2018, no. 401 26 April 2018
So, who reads poetry? American military cadets, that’s who. And medical specialists. Also, songwriters, journalists, and philosophers. And don’t forget (ex-) poets, priests, and politicians (to quote Sting). But let’s get back to those military cadets. What does poetry do for them? Who Reads Poetry gives us a number of possible answers. When Jeffrey Brown, a senior correspondent for PBS’s ... (read more)

David McCooey reviews 'Renga: 100 poems' by John Kinsella and Paul Kane

March 2018, no. 399 22 February 2018
Poets aren’t generally known for being great collaborators. Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads (1798) is a rare example of a co-authored canonical work of poetry. Renga: 100 poems, by John Kinsella and Paul Kane, has some similarities to Lyrical Ballads. Like those of its Romantic precedent, the poems in Renga are single-authored, the collaboration being project-based rather than an ex ... (read more)

David McCooey reviews 'David Malouf and the Poetic: His earlier writings' by Yvonne Smith

January–February 2018, no. 398 19 December 2017
Plenty of novelists begin life as poets. Few, though, have managed to maintain their status as poet–novelists quite so impressively as David Malouf. But even Malouf, in his ‘middle period’, more or less dropped poetry for his ‘big’ novels – The Great World (1990), Remembering Babylon (1993), and The Conversations at Curlow Creek (1996) – before a late return to poetry, kicked off wit ... (read more)

David McCooey reviews 'The Pleasures of Leisure' by Robert Dessaix

May 2017, no. 391 28 April 2017
The Last Resort (1986), a photobook by Martin Parr, includes a photograph of a woman sunbaking in the English seaside resort of New Brighton. The woman is lying, facedown and topless, on a concrete ramp, directly in front of the caterpillar tracks of a gigantic excavator. Beside her, a young girl plays with a red plastic bucket. As with so many of Parr’s images, one doesn’t know whether to lau ... (read more)