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David McCooey

David McCooey is a prize-winning poet, critic, and editor. His latest collection of poems is The Book of Falling, published by Upswell Publishing (2023). His first collection, Blister Pack (2005), won the Mary Gilmore Award and was shortlisted for four major national literary awards. He is a professor of literature and writing at Deakin University in Geelong, where he lives. His website is:

David McCooey reviews ‘Ghosts of Paradise’ by Stephen Edgar

March 2024, no. 462 22 February 2024
With a title like Ghosts of Paradise, it is no surprise that Stephen Edgar’s latest poetry collection is haunted by loss, mutability, and mortality – the great traditional themes of elegiac poetry. But Edgar’s poetry has long, if not always, been characteristically elegiac. In this new collection, Edgar’s first since winning the Prime Minister’s Award for poetry in 2021 (and his first fo ... (read more)

David McCooey reviews 'High Wire by Adrian Caesar'

April 2006, no. 280 01 April 2006
Having taught literary studies at the Australian Defence Force Academy, Adrian Caesar is perhaps better placed than most to understand the troubled relationship between power and culture, order and creativity. ‘All Cock Red’, one of the poems in Caesar’s fourth book of poems, High Wire, attends to such a context: ... (read more)

David McCooey reviews 'Networked Language: Culture & history in Australian poetry' by Philip Mead

October 2008, no. 305 01 October 2008
Philip mead’s Networked Language: Culture & History in Australian Poetry is an extraordinary piece of scholarly writing: large, ambitious, meticulously researched, brilliantly written and quite original. It is laudable not only for these inherent virtues but also, it has to be said, because of its very existence. Australian Scholarly Publishing is to be commended for publishing such a work. ... (read more)

David McCooey reviews 'Revolving Days: Selected Poems' by David Malouf

April 2008, no. 300 01 April 2008
David Malouf’s Typewriter Music (2007) recently reminded readers that Malouf is a masterful poet. It was also evidence of an especially successful period in Malouf’s glittering career, appearing only a year after the highly praised collection of short stories, Every Move You Make (2006), and in the same year as The Complete Stories (2007). Now with the publication of Malouf’s latest Selected ... (read more)

David McCooey reviews ‘Windchimes: Asia in Australian Poetry’ by Noel Rowe and Vivian Smith

September 2006, no. 284 01 September 2006
All regions being regions of the mind, ‘Asia’ has had an especially unsettled and unsettling place in Australian thought. Australia has, in part, defined its own ‘occidental’ status with almost hysterical reference to its many ‘oriental’ neighbours. The putative border crisis of recent times, for instance, involved representing (mostly Middle Eastern and Asian) refugees as cashed-up ... (read more)

David McCooey review ‘The Penguin Anthology of Australian Poetry’ edited by John Kinsella

April 2009, no. 310 01 April 2009
The publication of John Kinsella’s The Penguin Anthology of Australian Poetry is a major event in Australian poetry. It offers a powerful, large-scale vision of Australia and its poetry. Reading Kinsella’s anthology during the great southern heat-wave of 2009 (before the week of Black Saturday), my understanding of both things became coloured by their accidental intersection. On the second nig ... (read more)

David McCooey reviews 'Mermaid' by Alan Gould and 'The Majestic Rollerink' By Heather Cam

April 1996, no. 179 01 April 1996
‘Nothing odd will do long’, said Johnson (that great friend of reviewers). If we begin by positing Aland Gould as an odd poet (that is, more than merely eccentric or self-conscious), then whether Johnson is correct about oddness depends on the second half of his observation: ‘Tristram Shandy did not last’. No doubt ABR readers smile at such a sentiment; but if so, then the question becomes ... (read more)

David McCooey reviews 'The Best Australian Poetry 2005' edited by Peter Porter

October 2005, no. 275 01 October 2005
Comedy isn’t the only art that requires good timing. Poetry also requires it. Indeed, poetry might be partly defined as the art of giving things away at the right moment. Illustrating this we have The Best Australian Poetry 2005. In this elegant anthology, we find Peter Goldsworthy’s inspired description of our planet: ‘Our earthen dish is seven parts water / one part china, and a tiny bit j ... (read more)

'Going Public: A Decade of Australian Autobiography' by David McCooey

May 2006, no. 281 01 May 2006
Autobiography is based on a paradox. It is a generic representation of identity, but identity and genre appear to be antithetical. If we conventionally think of our identity as unique (singular, autonomous and self-made), how then can the presentation of that identity be generic? How, when narrating our lives, can we be both singular and understandable? Does narrating a life presuppose a way of wr ... (read more)