Poetry

In their very different ways, these three collections attest that contemporary Australian poetry is alive, robust, and engaging.

Puncher and Wattmann have delivered a generous collection of Martin Langford's most recent poems, Ground ($25 pb, 158 pp, 9781922186751). As we have come to expect from Langford, the voice we find here is strong – passio ...

Judith Beveridge reviews 'Creating Poetry' by Ron Pretty

Judith Beveridge
Thursday, 25 February 2016

This updated and revised edition of Creating Poetry – first published by Edward Arnold in 1987, and then by Five Islands Press in 2001 – is one of few poetry guidebooks written by an Australian poet. One of its pleasing features is that it uses the work of Australian poets, including John Tranter, Geoff Page, Kevin Brophy, Meredith Wattison, Judith Wrig ...

Speaking of the un-
spoken, jokes are a smoky
subspecies

This near-haiku is not so much a final definition of jokes as one definition of poetry. It shows up in Peter Goldsworthy's sequence 'Ars Poetica'. What he means is that the wordplay of jokes we make every day is a microcosm, a type and model of the more grandiose verbal surp ...

In her introduction to Australian Love Poems (2013), Donna Ward wrote that poems 'are the prayers of a secular world'. Now, aided by editors Jordie Albiston and Kevin Brophy, she brings us a collection that tests this notion. The introduction by David Tacey states its case fervently, with, in this case, a bit too much determination that 'the sacred is inera ...

The Flowers of Evil (Les Fleurs du mal, 1857) is the most celebrated and most influential collection of verse in the history of modern French poetry. Its author, Charles Baudelaire (1821–67), is seen as the embodiment of a sensibility we regard as 'modern'. T.S. Eliot called him 'the greatest exemplar of modern poetry in any language'.

Ba ...

Gig Ryan reviews 'Breezeway' by John Ashbery

Gig Ryan
Monday, 21 December 2015

The collage on the cover of Breezeway, John Ashbery's twenty-eighth book of poems, encapsulates his erudite multifariousness. The juxtaposition of Raphael's angel from Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints and de Chirico's The Enigma of Fatality with a nineteenth-century advertisement from Spanish Málaga resembles the pools of moments s ...

With her first book, Zoetrope, in 1995, MTC Cronin announced herself as a very particular force in Australian poetry. It was not just that her début was so much more immediately arresting than most poets' first outings, but also that it had real authority. This authority, coming from force of intellect and a kind of absolutist, almost inscribed imagination ...

Andrew Fuhrmann reviews 'Young Eliot' by Robert Crawford

Andrew Fuhrmann
Thursday, 26 November 2015

This long-anticipated first volume of Robert Crawford's biography of T.S. Eliot, the first with permission from the Eliot estate to quote the poet's correspondence and unpublished work, highlights the Young Eliot as – not least in the achievement of his poetry – always an Old Eliot. And yet the picture of Eliot as a child and adolescent is detailed. In Young ...

Judith Beveridge reviews 'Happiness' by Martin Harrison

Judith Beveridge
Wednesday, 25 November 2015

'Happiness' may seem like an odd word for the title of a book of poetry, and given the circumstances of Martin Harrison's final years – his illness, the tragic death of his younger Tunisian lover, Nizar Bouheni – the title is rather ironic, but the poems in this posthumous volume are rich, bountiful, full of the same 'worshipful attention', the same sense of ope ...

Geoff Page reviews 'Babel Fish' by Jillian Pattinson

Geoff Page
Thursday, 29 October 2015

Halfway through her first full-length collection, Babel Fish, Jillian Pattinson quotes Borges's famous argument: 'Myth is at the beginning of literature, and also at its end.' Her whole book does its best to embody this idea.

As its title 'Waterline' implies, the first group of poems here is loosely unified by water references, from the semi-scienti ...