Monday, 24 November 2014 12:17

Dante’s salvific journey

During a visit to Adelaide in 2013 as a keynote speaker at the Australasian Centre for Italian Studies ‘Re-imagining Italian Studies’ conference, Professor Martin McLaughlin (Agnelli-Serena Professor of Italian Studies and Fellow of Magdalen College) made the following observation about Clive James’s translation of The Divine Comedy:

There are many innovations in Clive James’s version that make it stand out as being fit for purpose in our century: he is the first to incorporate information normally found in footnotes into the text itself; he is the first to use a flexible quatrain rather than blank verse or terza rima as his metre; and he is the first to pay explicit attention to poetic tempo and texture.

Additional Info

  • Free Article No
  • Custom Article Title Diana Glenn reviews 'The Divine Comedy' translated by Clive James
  • Contents Category Poetry
  • Book Title The Divine Comedy
  • Book Author Dante, translated by Clive James
  • Author Type Author
  • Biblio Picador, $32.99 pb, 526 pp, 9781447244219
Friday, 31 October 2014 11:33

'Palace of Culture' by Ania Walwicz

Reading the poetry of Ania Walwicz is a little like being drawn into a trance: the density of the prose-like lines; the disorientation of the lack of punctuation; the repetition of certain words, phrases, alliterations. It is not a poetry that can be read in short bursts. Each poem is a commitment to a vision, to a mind-space explicitly shaped by the intensity and demand of Walwicz’s language. Having burst into Australian poetry with her ‘Polish accented’ voice more than thirty years ago, troubling the dominant Anglocentric view of Australian culture, Walwicz’s poetic still works to startle a reader from her comfort zone and to disrupt her expectations about what poetry is and can be.

Additional Info

  • Free Article No
  • Custom Article Title Rose Lucas reviews 'Palace of Culture' by Ania Walwicz
  • Contents Category Poetry
  • Book Title Palace of Culture
  • Book Author Ania Walwicz
  • Biblio Puncher & Wattmann, $25 pb, 110 pp, 9781922186508
Friday, 31 October 2014 11:20

'South in the World' by Lisa Jacobson

Lisa Jacobson’s third book, South in the World, opens with ‘Several Ways to Fall Out of The Sky’, a poem composed of imperatives instructing the reader in the strange art of descent. Jacobson’s poem deliberately invokes Auden’s famous piece of ekphrasis about Brueghel’s Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, ‘Musée des Beaux Arts’, which concerns itself with the relativity of suffering. All tragedies, Auden suggests, are products of perspective: Icarus’s plummeting may be a source of anguish for Daedalus, but is a minor occasion for a passing ploughman. Jacobson challenges this divested notion of witness by engaging in acts of imaginative empathy, stepping beyond the poet’s localised purview into the broader historical sphere.

Additional Info

  • Free Article No
  • Custom Article Title Sarah Holland-Batt reviews 'South in the World' by Lisa Jacobson
  • Contents Category Poetry
  • Book Title South in the World
  • Book Author Lisa Jacobson
  • Biblio UWA Publishing, $24.99 pb, 116 pp, 9781742586021

In her short life (1891–1927), Lesbia Harford wrote hundreds of poems and a novel, took a law degree at the University of Melbourne, had love affairs with both women and men, worked as a machinist in clothing factories, and was active in the anti-conscription movement during World War I and the International Workers of the World (‘the Wobblies’). She was the quintessential modern woman of the early twentieth century.

Additional Info

  • Free Article No
  • Custom Article Title Susan Sheridan reviews 'Collected Poems: Lesbia Harford' edited by Oliver Dennis
  • Contents Category Poetry
  • Book Title COLLECTED POEMS: LESBIA HARFORD
  • Book Author Oliver Dennis
  • Author Type Editor
  • Biblio UWA Publishing, $29.99 pb, 136 pp. 9781742585352
Thursday, 25 September 2014 11:44

Axon: Creative Explorations

Axon’s commitment to publishing new research in creativity and the creative process is highlighted in this issue on poetry. Lucy Dougan, consultant editor, introduces its exploration of ‘how poetry constitutes knowledge; how it is made; how poets think about their work’, and one of the exhaustive questions in the academy: ‘how poetry may be understood as research.’ Like Text: Journal of Writing and Writing Courses, Axon’s open access enhances ‘the free exchange of ideas’. Since many of the same writers have been published in both journals, Axon reads like a more techno-savvy sister publication.

Additional Info

  • Free Article No
  • Custom Article Title Cassandra Atherton reviews the new issue of 'Axon'
  • Contents Category Journals
  • Book Title Axon: Creative Explorations, Vol. 4, No. 1
  • Book Author Lucy Dougan et al.
  • Author Type Editor
  • Biblio www.axonjournal.com.au
Thursday, 25 September 2014 11:39

The Unspeak Poems

TheUnspeak Poems, Tim Thorne’s fourteenth collection, is characteristically politically engaged and international in its scope. The best of these poems make use of Thorne’s acute ear for everyday speech. ‘Gettin’ there’, for instance, sad and memorable, creates through jumpy fragments of wry observations and narrative a picture of misguided hope against loaded odds: ‘The saddest place I’ve ever seen / is the bus shelter outside Risdon prison. / You lose about one teddy bear per eviction / on average.’ The same talent is used to different effect in recording the incoherence of racism in ‘7/11’.

Additional Info

  • Free Article No
  • Custom Article Title Graeme Miles reviews 'The Unspeak Poems and Other Verses'
  • Contents Category Poetry
  • Book Title The Unspeak Poems and Other Verses
  • Book Author Tim Thorne
  • Author Type Author
  • Biblio Walleah Press $20 pb, 96 pp, 9781877010439
Thursday, 25 September 2014 11:30

Cameron Lowe's third collection of poetry

Just over fifty years since the death of the great American poet William Carlos Williams, it ispleasing to see so much of his spirit still alive in Cameron Lowe’s third collection, Circle Work. Williams was often short-changed by poets who, mistakenly, thought his short, ‘photographic’ poems easy to imitate. Lowe, by contrast, fully understands the importance of close observation and imagination. He understands, too, the necessity for skilled syntax and how a poem may consist wholly of details which are not in the least ‘poetic’.

Additional Info

  • Free Article No
  • Custom Article Title Geoff Page reviews 'Circle Work'
  • Contents Category Poetry
  • Book Title Circle Work
  • Book Author Cameron Lowe
  • Author Type Author
  • Biblio Puncher & Wattmann, $25 pb, 76 pp, 9781922186232
Thursday, 25 September 2014 11:16

Exhaustive poetic meditations

A striking feature of this collection of Geoffrey Lehmann’s poetry of fifty-six years is how few loci of interest there are: ancient Rome, a farm in rural New South Wales, parenthood. His characteristic mode seems to be to explore these exhaustively by holding them up to the light and investigating every facet. Wallace Stevens’s ‘Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird’ hovers behind these poems as an emblem of their method, and it is no accident that the fifth-last poem is called ‘Thirteen Reviews of the New Babylon Inn’.

We meet this in the first group of poems, ‘Simple Sonnets’. Their title is, I suspect, an allusion to Prokofiev’s ‘Simple Symphony’, which established a good strategy for artists keen to do something distinctively new in an established, rather old-fashioned form which is already the site of forbidding masterworks of the past. There are fourteen of them; one more than the poems about the blackbird, but one for each line of a sonnet. Each poem is made up of seven roughly rhymed couplets, and they tap into the near-nightmare world of some of the border ballads: ‘I saw a deaf man feeding with the pigs, / And further on among some poison figs / A child lay dead.’

Additional Info

  • Free Article No
  • Custom Article Title Martin Duwell reviews Geoffrey Lehmann's 'Poems: 1957−2013'
  • Contents Category Poetry
  • Book Title Poems: 1957–2013
  • Book Author Geoffrey Lehmann
  • Author Type Author
  • Biblio UWA Publishing, $29.99 pb, 365 pp, 9781742585604
Thursday, 25 September 2014 10:50

Tributes to Chris Wallace-Crabbe

The title of Cassandra Atherton’s anthology, Travelling Without Gods, alludes to the particular brand of agnosticism that has run through Chris Wallace-Crabbe’s work over many decades. Journeying sans deity is evidenced strongly in the poet’s latest collection, a book which, like Atherton’s, has been published to coincide with Wallace-Crabbe’s eightieth birthday.

For a non-believer, Wallace-Crabbe’s My Feet Are Hungry makes frequent reference to Christian ideology. This is in marked contrast to a number of Australian poets – Judith Beveridge, Barry Hill, Robert Gray among them – whose work in recent years testifies to the influence of Buddhism. Wallace-Crabbe’s Christian saviour is located firmly in the historical rather than the sacred. Only mildly irreverent, the poet shows respect for a figure who sides with the disadvantaged in an era of raging commercial interest and power-mad politicians: ‘Did Roman nails deserve his blood? / Even for someone who venerates money / Here is a story of absolute good’ (‘And the Cross’).

Additional Info

  • Free Article No
  • Custom Article Title Anthony Lynch: tributes to Chris Wallace-Crabbe
  • Contents Category Poetry
  • Book Title Travelling Without Gods
  • Book Author Cassandra Atherton
  • Book Subtitle A Chris Wallace-Crabbe Companion
  • Author Type Editor
  • Biblio Melbourne University Press, $39.99 pb, 236 pp, 9780522864519
  • Book Title 2 My Feet Are Hungry
  • Book Author 2 Chris Wallace-Crabbe
  • Biblio 2 Pitt Street Poetry, $25 pb, 94 pp, 9781922080363
  • Book Cover 2 Small Book Cover 2 Small
  • Author Type 2 Author
  • Book Cover 2 Book Cover 2
  • Book Cover 2 Path /images/October_2014/my%20feet%20are%20hungry%20-%20colour.jpg
Tuesday, 26 August 2014 11:32

Leaves of Glass

Between 1889 and 1892, young Australian poet Bernard O’Dowd corresponded with the ageing Walt Whitman. Leaves of Glass, David Prater’s second collection, vividly imagines this long-distance relationship. This is not, however, a historical novel in verse. It refracts the correspondence through a perpetually shifting series of voices and forms, from heavily ironic, mock-traditional ones (‘Treading: An Air’) to the language of personal columns. There is even a translation of Whitman’s ‘O Captain! My Captain!’ into the language of LOLcats, that is, rewriting the poem as though by a cat (‘Gowayz Ob Lol: “O Kitteh! Meh Kitteh!”’). Despite having some sharp literary and cultural observations to make, there is nothing precious or stuffy about this book. To take one sample of this mixing of times and voices, ‘Swagman Ted’, a prose-poem/letter from O’Dowd to Whitman, begins: ‘Revered Master, Perhaps it was “Banjo” Paterson’s curse – we’ll never know; as someone once observed, news reaches us slowly over here, is constantly being delayed (or censored?) in the mail.’

Additional Info

  • Free Article No
  • Custom Article Title Graeme Miles reviews 'Leaves of Glass'
  • Contents Category Poetry
  • Book Title Leaves of Glass
  • Book Author David Prater
  • Author Type Author
  • Biblio Puncher & Wattmann, $25 pb, 77 pp, 9781922186454