Poetry

Writers who move in mid-career from one literary genre to another often encounter resistance. Some turfs are well guarded. They can also misapprehend the new form they are planning to join. John Upton, who for almost thirty years has been a successful playwright and screenwriter, has made the difficult move seamlessly in this first collection of poems.

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Jennifer Maiden’s eighteenth book of poetry bears yet another title punning on war (remember Tactics, The Problem of Evil, The Occupying Forces, The Border Loss, Acoustic Shadow, Friendly Fire). Her umbrella themes – politics, power, evil, the public and private selves, war, and the role of art – are back. The title is ...

With Axis, his first full-length publication, a.j. carruthers explicitly aligns himself with the lineage of the long poem. It is a bold move, if we consider that the major exponents of the form, from Ezra Pound to Anne Waldman, had invariably produced significant bodies of work prior to embarking on their poetic marathons. But ambition is fundamental to the l ...

Collected Poems by by Mark Strand

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March 2015, no. 369

It is tempting to say that when Mark Strand died last November American poetry lost one of its most distinctive voices. But it isn’t quite true. First, Strand had already retired from poetry several years earlier (before Philip Roth and Alice Munro caused a stir by doing so from fiction). Strand returned to his first career as an artist (a very talented one, accor ...

‘The singularity and importance of [Pier Paolo Pasolini’s] artistry lies largely in the protean, multimedial quality of his vision,’ Stephen Sartarelli rightly reminds us in this bilingual edition of Pasolini’s poetry. Nonetheless, to an Anglophone world Pasolini (1922–75) is best known as the rebellious and audacious director of such films as The Gospe ...

The legendary Dylan has now been dead for a century and his fumy glitter has probably faded a little. But then, how far do any poets these days really have glamour to show for themselves, no matter how hard they drink? Very few, in the Anglophone world at least: there’s nobody around like Wales’s roaring boy.

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SACK by John Kinsella

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March 2015, no. 369

The eponymous poem in John Kinsella’s latest book recounts a group of teenagers witnessing a sack being flung from a speeding car. The sack, they discover, is filled with tortured kittens. This shocking poem of human cruelty begins a collection concerned with Kinsella’s great themes: the degradation of the environment, human violence (particularly towards animal ...

Libby Hart’s new collection is ornate and knotty in a way that the reader would never divine from its cover, which is clear and white, with ‘wild’ in plain green typescript. It is essentially a bestiary, with birds of all kinds, as well as other creatures, including humans, in wild places, blown by winds and salt spray, or bringing wildness to ‘settled’ hu ...

In his November 2010 lecture delivered as Oxford Professor of Poetry, Geoffrey Hill tested the idea that poetry might constitute a form of perjury. He acknowledged that ‘this is a deeply pessimistic view: many would say anachronistic’. Showing that language is an imperfect and even fallen medium which presents moral hazards to its users was not, however, the ses ...

Evan Jones’s Selected Poems is more than timely: its author was born in 1931. In an introduction (or ‘Personal Appreciation’), fellow Melbourne poet Alex Skovroncomplains that ‘Evan’s work has not always received the attention it deserves, especially in recent years’. It is worth pausing a moment to consider why this should be so.

Jones is ...