The Poet is an unusual book. Dispensing with many of the conventions that underpin most extended works of prose fiction, such as significant characterisation, it presents a central protagonist, Manfred, who is ‘honest’ – as the author repeatedly states. Manfred is also a poet. The novella is written in formal and refined prose, as if the narrative style is designed to reflect Manfred’s obsessional nature and estranged condition: he has never been ‘in love’, is ‘something of a loner’ and is highly anxious.... (read more)
Poetry books that focus on memory, recuperation, and loss are common, but it is rare to find poems that speak about such matters as sparely and eloquently as these do. Bill Manhire’s new poems are bony and sinewy, resonating with an awareness of public and personal grief. Although these works often speak by indirection, many of them pack a real punch. As Manhire p ...
Which poets have most influenced you? In the 1980s I read Emily Dickinson’s poetry intensively, and I suspect that her superbly compressed work is ingrained within me. In late adolescence I loved the musicality of W.B. Yeats, and later I grew to admire W.H. Auden’s complexities and clarity. I dwelt for a while in the evocations of New Zealander Lauris Edmond. Recently, I have been reading the tensile work of Tusiata Avia with great enjoyment. Many Australian poets, including Judith Wright and Rosemary Dobson, have influenced my writing.... (read more)
The abandoned ship was there one morning – a new broken headland –
shiny, sitting high on the low tide, with hundreds of windows like
blinking oval spectacles. Over months the view became fractured;
someone dubbed it the Marie Celeste ‘beached at last’ and a group of us
Originally published in German, Albrecht Dümling’s The Vanished Musicians: Jewish refugees in Australia (Peter Lang), a fascinating compendium of Jewish musicians who found refuge in Australia in the 1930s and 1940s, is now available in Australian Diana K. Weekes’s excellent translation ...... (read more)
In this episode of Australian Book Review's States of Poetry podcast, Paul Hetherington reads 'Gap' and 'River' which feature in the 2016 ACT anthology.... (read more)
This black dress
is also a painting –
it hangs on a wall
where light holds it close.
It's a doorway to places
no-one quite knows;
that bloom and rain
with extravagant vistas.
We've sometimes entered
into the painting
dipping dark hats,
riding down lanes
There was never an explanation
as to why he walked into the river,
took hold of a log
and floated away.
They found letters
but the love he expressed
in sometimes obsessive detail
was no explanation –
except, the coroner declared
that perhaps it indicated
'a lack of a grasp', etc.
Someone who saw him pass by
said that he was waterlogg ...
Every morning, with an authority
of clinging, earthy foundations
a house sat in air.
Inside someone was singing an aria
about how love inflects its failings
and a woman, absorbed in her toilette
considered how pained words work
the world awry, even as air fills with song.
Outside a man hammered boards
to make a dwelling; crows sat on a wire
as i ...