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Clem Christensen

‘In Sydney if you have something to say you hold a party; in Melbourne you start a journal,’ quipped the poet and critic Vincent Buckley in 1962. Buckley was an acute, astringent observer of the literary culture of the two cities. An outsider in both, he recognised Melbourne’s characteristic voice – ‘earnest, do-gooding, voluble’ – in the leftish humanism of its leading literary journals, Clem Christesen’s Meanjin and Stephen Murray-Smith’s Overland. Not for Melbourne the anarchic frenzies of the Bulletin, the Sydney Push and Oz. While Sydney had the best poets, Buckley contended that the southern capital had the most influential opinion makers.

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