Rarely does one come across a book that is both intensely ‘literary’ – stylised, sophisticated, deeply engaged with its antecedents – and achingly moving, so viscerally raw that it takes one’s breath away. A Passing Bell: Ghazals for Tina – an elegy-sequence for Tina Kane, to whom Paul Kane was married for thirty-six years – is such a work ...... (read more)
A seven-hundred-page Collected Poems? The cover photograph of the Big Bloke himself is an embodiment of what’s inside in all its sprawling abundance. As is his surname, which can’t help but invoke our country’s big river, whether in full flood, or slow trickle, or slow spreading billabongs ...... (read more)
It is a curious thing, and not a little moving, to see writers celebrated for their work in other genres turn in later life with renewed vigour to poetry. David Malouf, like Clive James, has avowed a desire for poetry now, as the main form of writing his expression wants to take. Certainly, its brevity has a part in this ...... (read more)
For admirers of Clive James’s poetry written since he became terminally ill in 2011 (and this reviewer is certainly one), The River in the Sky will pose something of a quandary. In collections like Sentenced to Life (2015) and Injury Time (2017), the poems were generally tough, vulnerable, well-turned and ...... (read more)
Sarah Day’s début collection, A Hunger to Be Less Serious (1987), married lightness of touch with depth of insight. In Towards Light & Other Poems (Puncher & Wattmann, $25 pb, 108 pp, 9781925780024), Day continues this project in poems concerned with light, a thing presented as both ...... (read more)
It is time to repent my sins. Recently, I have been asking myself if poetry is exempt from a need to entertain. Is the act of reading a poem or a book of poetry an escapist, amusing, joyous diversion from the rigours of reality? Or is it something more tedious, cold-blooded, blandly ...... (read more)
Kevin Brophy’s latest book is a record of the year he spent living in the remote Aboriginal community of Mulan. The community is home to predominantly Walmajarri people, and is on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert, sixteen hours’ drive from Broome. He was given a decomposing house to ...... (read more)
The appearance of a New and Selected Poems by a widely loved and admired poet has all the pleasures of a major retrospective, but viewed alone, without the clamour of a gallery event. It’s in the nature of retrospective to raise the banner of analysis-as-public-spectacle. What does this art mean ...... (read more)
There’s the Bunny
Flashin his Bunny.
Yr seriousness has spread over the parlour
Like a goddam Cumulonimbus Incus
I stare at your broken heroes Nose
& Finger my soft Shillelagh ...
Jennifer Maiden’s first books, Tactics (1974) and The Problem of Evil (1975), introduced a fantastically complex and enquiring poetry, with strangely fragmentary assemblages of character wrought from conflict. Both books were partly inspired by television’s gory nightly footage of the Vietnam War ...... (read more)