Geoff Page reviews 'Jack & Mollie (& Her)' by Jordie Albiston

Geoff Page reviews 'Jack & Mollie (& Her)' by Jordie Albiston

Jack & Mollie (& Her)

by Jordie Albiston

University of Queensland Press $24.95 pb, 144 pp, 9780702254185

Although William Carlos Williams, with some accuracy, claimed that 'every' poem is an 'experiment', the number of successful experiments is relatively rare. Jordie Albiston's new 'long poem' or 'verse novel' (call it what you will) is triumphantly experimental in both technique and content.

In technique, Albiston has done several things which, in other hands, would almost certainly have not turned out well. The whole book is written in syllabic rather than accentual verse, a metre used with mixed success last century, by Marianne Moore (1887–1972) and a few others. Albiston here has deliberately flirted with the pentameter by ensuring every line across her 136 pages has exactly ten syllables. Her 'free verse' rather than iambic lines are arranged (as if by a related algorithm) into five-line stanzas. The result is unexpectedly convincing and agreeable to read.

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Geoff Page

Geoff Page

Geoff Page is based in Canberra and has published twenty-three collections of poetry as well as two novels and five verse novels. His recent books include 1953 (UQP 2013), Improving the News (Pitt Street Poetry 2013), New Selected Poems (Puncher & Wattmann 2013), Aficionado: A Jazz Memoir (Picaro Press 2014), Gods and Uncles (Pitt Street Poetry 2015), Hard Horizons (Pitt Street Poetry 2017) and PLEVNA: A Verse Biography (UWA Publishing 2016). He also edited The Best Australian Poems 2014 and The Best Australian Poems 2015 (Black Inc). His Elegy for Emily: a verse biography is due out shortly from Puncher & Wattmann.

Published in May 2016, no. 381

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