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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 ‘Verse: The second decade vol. 21, nos. 1–3’ edited by Brian Henry and Andrew Zawacki

June–July 2005, no. 272 01 June 2005
In this special anniversary issue of the North American journal Verse, sub-titled The Second Decade, one can find a poem by Ethan Paquin called ‘New Form’. Its first line reads: ‘Ablution when stitched with pertussitine hate.’ Pertussitine? One of the most striking things about this large, impressive collection of contemporary poetry is its penchant, indeed rage, for the obscure word. Afte ... (read more)

David McCooey reviews ‘The Penguin Book of Elegy: Poems of memory, mourning and consolation’ edited by Andrew Motion and Stephen Regan

May 2024, no. 464 22 April 2024
In the famous opening sequence of the 1946 film A Matter of Life and Death, an RAF pilot, flying his burning Lancaster bomber over the English Channel, talks with a radio operator at a nearby English base. Apparently facing certain death, the pilot quotes Sir Walter Raleigh’s ‘The Passionate Man’s Pilgrimage’, a poem allegedly written just before its author’s execution in 1618. ‘Give m ... (read more)

David McCooey reviews ‘The Best Australian Poems 2003’ edited by Peter Craven and ‘The Best Australian Poetry 2003’ edited by Martin Duwell

December 2003–January 2004, no. 257 01 December 2003
Writing this on the first Tuesday in November, I am struck by how different contemporary Australian poetry is from the Melbourne Cup. There is no money in poetry, of course, and in horse racing everyone, even the horses, are much better dressed. What’s more, despite complaints to the contrary, the returns are usually better when it comes to reading poetry than spending your days at the TAB. Mart ... (read more)

David McCooey reviews ‘Text Thing’ by Pam Brown and ‘Dear Deliria: New and selected poems’ by Pam Brown

June–July 2003, no. 252 01 June 2003
It is a Pam Brown moment when, flicking through her Dear Deliria, I read of ‘historic butter sculptures’ and hear at the same time David Bowie on the stereo singing ‘yak-butter statues’. It’s a Pam Brown moment because her poetry is one of incidents and coincidence. In its interest in both the quotidian and in critique, Brown’s poetry illustrates the endless interplay between texts and ... (read more)

David McCooey reviews ‘Ghosts of Paradise’ by Stephen Edgar

March 2024, no. 462 22 February 2024
With a title like Ghosts of Paradise, it is no surprise that Stephen Edgar’s latest poetry collection is haunted by loss, mutability, and mortality – the great traditional themes of elegiac poetry. But Edgar’s poetry has long, if not always, been characteristically elegiac. In this new collection, Edgar’s first since winning the Prime Minister’s Award for poetry in 2021 (and his first fo ... (read more)

David McCooey reviews 'High Wire by Adrian Caesar'

April 2006, no. 280 01 April 2006
Having taught literary studies at the Australian Defence Force Academy, Adrian Caesar is perhaps better placed than most to understand the troubled relationship between power and culture, order and creativity. ‘All Cock Red’, one of the poems in Caesar’s fourth book of poems, High Wire, attends to such a context: ... (read more)

David McCooey reviews 'Networked Language: Culture & history in Australian poetry' by Philip Mead

October 2008, no. 305 01 October 2008
Philip mead’s Networked Language: Culture & History in Australian Poetry is an extraordinary piece of scholarly writing: large, ambitious, meticulously researched, brilliantly written and quite original. It is laudable not only for these inherent virtues but also, it has to be said, because of its very existence. Australian Scholarly Publishing is to be commended for publishing such a work. ... (read more)

David McCooey reviews 'Revolving Days: Selected Poems' by David Malouf

April 2008, no. 300 01 April 2008
David Malouf’s Typewriter Music (2007) recently reminded readers that Malouf is a masterful poet. It was also evidence of an especially successful period in Malouf’s glittering career, appearing only a year after the highly praised collection of short stories, Every Move You Make (2006), and in the same year as The Complete Stories (2007). Now with the publication of Malouf’s latest Selected ... (read more)

David McCooey reviews ‘Windchimes: Asia in Australian Poetry’ by Noel Rowe and Vivian Smith

September 2006, no. 284 01 September 2006
All regions being regions of the mind, ‘Asia’ has had an especially unsettled and unsettling place in Australian thought. Australia has, in part, defined its own ‘occidental’ status with almost hysterical reference to its many ‘oriental’ neighbours. The putative border crisis of recent times, for instance, involved representing (mostly Middle Eastern and Asian) refugees as cashed-up ... (read more)