Geoff Page reviews 'Transparencies' by Stephen Edgar

Geoff Page reviews 'Transparencies' by Stephen Edgar

Transparencies

by Stephen Edgar

Black Pepper, $24 pb, 89 pp, 9780648038702

After Stephen Edgar’s nine collections of poetry, the last seven of which are distinguished by an extraordinary control over metre and rhyme, a reviewer feels bound to ask how this new book, Transparencies, differs from its predecessors? There are at least two answers: the recurrent spirit of the poet’s mother, Marion Isabel Edgar (1922–2015), to whom the book is dedicated, and the poet’s elegant conviction that the universe lacks any meaning beyond that which we arbitrarily impose on it. A third concern – not entirely new – is the unreliability of our senses, particularly our vision, and how our perception of the world tends to be layered rather than completed in a single ‘take’.

The well-designed cover of Transparencies features a painting by Judith Martinez called ‘Rumours of Light’. A woman in a wind-flounced dress stares across what seems to be an estuary. Littoral views like this are recurrent in Edgar’s verse, and a smaller monochromatic version of the painting is used to separate the book’s three sections.

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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 August 2017, no. 393

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