Cordite Books

Song of Less by Joan Fleming & Blight Street by Geoff Goodfellow

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May 2022, no. 442

In the years since Les Murray’s The Boys Who Stole the Funeral (1980) and Alan Wearne’s The Nightmarkets (1986), the verse novel has become, despite its inherent difficulties, an established literary form in Australian poetry (and fiction, for that matter). Verse novelist Dorothy Porter (1954–2008), with The Monkey’s Mask (1994) and other works, gave it further prominence. Steven Herrick is just one of the poets who are making it an important part of the Young Adult field. A series of interviews with Australasian verse novelists (The Verse Novel), edited by Linda Weste, has recently gone into a second edition.

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Good poetry uncovers the secret in the manifest, and the manifest in the secret. Three new collections throw this paradox into vibrant, unsettling relief. Each book deserves a broad readership. Each beats back the lethargic thinking that has invaded society under the cover of the pandemic.

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Toby Davidson’s first collection, Beast Language, was published nine years ago. That feels surprising: its freshness then makes it feel more recent now. Much of the movement in that book is present in his new collection, Four Oceans (Puncher & Wattmann, $25 pb, 93 pp), literally so, as we begin with a long sequence aboard the Indian Pacific from Perth to Sydney. It’s his younger self again, leaving home for the ‘eastern states’, but with an esprit de l’escalier twist, as that younger self gets to see and describe everything with the eye and language of the older, freer, more assured Davidson.

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White on White by Anne Elvey & The Sky Runs Right Through Us by Reneé Pettitt-Schipp

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January-February 2019, no. 408

Anne Elvey’s White on White and Reneé Pettitt-Schipp’s The Sky Runs Right Through Us both offer ideas of unsettlement in contemporary Australia; Elvey’s is the unsettlement brought by the arrival of colonists, whereas Pettitt-Schipp explores the unsettlement associated with ...

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A new poetry press in Australia should always be greeted with joy, and then interrogated with rigour. These six volumes from the recently created book arm of Cordite Poetry ...

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Poetry books as artefacts in their own right, regardless of commercial viability or relevance to the click-bait Zeitgeist, are currently showing sturdy signs of life, so it is a welcome development to have the online Cordite Review sensibility fixed in print, in a palpable way and on a gras ...