Poetry

W.H. Auden, following Samuel Butler, thought that ‘the true test of imagination is the ability to name a cat’, and plenty of people, poets, and others have believed this: to recast a dictum of Christ’s, if you can’t be trusted with the cats, why should we trust you with the tigers? Gwen Harwood could be trusted with the cats, and with yet more domestic things; here, for example, is her fairly late poem ‘Cups’

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You might expect a book of eighty-eight new poems by Les Murray to be sizeable (most of his recent single volumes run to about sixty poems each). But Poems the Size of Photographs is literally a small book, composed of short poems (‘though some are longer’, says the back cover) ...

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When John Tranter reviewed Jennifer Maiden’s first collection, Tactics (1974), he noted its ‘brilliant yet difficult imagery’ and a style ‘so idiosyncratic and forceful in a sense it becomes the subject of her work’... 

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Andy Kissane, who (with Belle Ling) shared the 2019 Peter Porter Poetry Prize, is one of Australia’s most moving poets. He is unfailingly empathetic, a master of poetic narrative – and of the ‘middle style’ where language is not an end in itself but an unobtrusive vehicle for poignancy (or, occasionally, humour or irony). The Tomb of the Unknown Artist ...

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Not many peoples are able to read poems in their language written one thousand years ago, as Persian speakers in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan do today with Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh, meaning the ‘Book of Kings’. The Shahnameh is Iran’s national epic, a vast compilation of pre-Islamic Iranian myths, legends, and imperial history ...

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Original voices are always slippery to describe. The familiar weighing mechanisms don’t work very well when the body of work floats a little above the weighing pan, or darts around in it. As in dreams, a disturbing familiarity may envelop the work with an elusive scent. It is no different for poetry than for ...

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A new anthology of bite-sized New Zealand poems is freshly out from Victoria University Press. VUP is the Wellington-based publisher closely associated with the University’s renowned creative writing school, known affectionately (or pejoratively, depending on your affiliation) as ‘The Bill Manhire School’ ...

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Alison Whittaker’s début collection, Lemons in the Chicken Wire (2015), introduced a genuinely new voice to Australian poetry: that of a Gomeroi woman, a Fulbright scholar, and a poet who can bend and blend forms with the best of them. Her second collection of poems, Blakwork, places her firmly in both the ... 

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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 ...

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Judith Rodriguez, who died in November 2018, was a champion of other people’s causes: the right to be heard, the right to freedom from persecution, the right to refuge when such freedom is denied. She was also a champion of poetry and gave generously of her time and energy to fighting its corner ...

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