Geoff Page reviews 'Green Shadows and Other Poems' by Gerald Murnane

Geoff Page reviews 'Green Shadows and Other Poems' by Gerald Murnane

Green Shadows and Other Poems

by Gerald Murnane

Giramondo, $24 pb, 104 pp, 9781925336986

There has been a long and often troubled history of poets writing novels and novelists writing poetry. The skills needed are very different and equally hard to learn. Few writers have made equal careers in both. If they do, it’s usually the novels that receive most attention. (Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje spring to mind.) Many major novelists, however, had some poetry among their early work. F. Scott Fitzgerald and William Faulkner started penning Keats imitations. Some novelists, like David Foster, have put out a book of poetry, had it negatively reviewed, and have then returned, with some chagrin, to prose. Similarly, some poets’ novels are dismissed for their ‘poetic prose’. There is a strong tendency among poets and novelists (even among their reviewers) to ‘protect their own turf’, as it were.

The ‘turf’ image may also be apposite for the novelist Gerald Murnane, given his lifelong obsession with horseracing. Now, in his eightieth year, Murnane has declared that he has written all the fiction he intends to write and has issued Green Shadows and Other Poems as a kind of valediction.

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Published in March 2019, no. 409
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.

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