The need for this book is self-evident in a way that a similarly historical anthology for New South Wales or Victorian poetry would not be. From many perspectives, Perth is one of the most remote cities in the world and there is no doubt that the state’s uniqueness is captured in this extensive, though tightly edited, selection. Despite its comparable treatment of Aboriginal people, Western Australia’s nineteenth-century history (with its brief experience of convictism and its relatively late gold rush in the 1890s) is different from that of the eastern colonies, about which Western Australians continue to feel a mild, justified paranoia.
Of course, Western Australia occupies about half the Australian continent, so there is also considerable regionality (likewise reflected in the selections here). John Kinsella and Tracy Ryan’s introduction to all this is suitably comprehensive and informative (if, occasionally, a little dramatic in its claims for the international status of some its poets).