Poetry

Philip Harvey reviews 'The Rise of the Machines and other love poems' by Peter Goldsworthy

Philip Harvey
24 February 2016
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 ... More

Peter Kenneally reviews 'Prayers of a Secular World' edited by Jordie Albiston and Kevin Brophy

Peter Kenneally
21 December 2015

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 ... More

Brian Nelson reviews 'Selected Poems from Les Fleurs du mal' by Charles Baudelaire, translated by Jan Owen

Brian Nelson
21 December 2015

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 ... More

Gig Ryan reviews 'Breezeway' by John Ashbery

Gig Ryan
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 ... More

Peter Kenneally reviews 'The Law of Poetry' by MTC Cronin, 'The Ladder' by Simon West, 'Jam Sticky Vision' by Luke Beesley, 'Immune Systems' by Andy Jackson, and 'The Hour of Silvered Mullet' by Jean Kent

Peter Kenneally
27 November 2015

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 ... More

Andrew Fuhrmann reviews 'Young Eliot' by Robert Crawford

Andrew Fuhrmann
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 ... More

Judith Beveridge reviews 'Happiness' by Martin Harrison

Judith Beveridge
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 ... More

Geoff Page reviews 'Babel Fish' by Jillian Pattinson

Geoff Page
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 ... More

Fiona Hile reviews 'Rhinestone' by Ella O'Keefe, 'Metadata' by Amelia Dale, 'end motion/manifest' by Sian Vate, and 'Office of Locutions' by Kate Middleton

Fiona Hile
29 October 2015

All writers need good bookshelves, but the poet, perhaps more than any other writer, is charged with the involuntary dispensation and relentless accumulation of reading material. This is partly due to the proclivities of the producers and partly due to the characteristics of the form itself. As the notable cultural critic Pierre Bourdieu remarked, poetry's effects d ... More

David Wells reviews 'The Penguin Book of Russian Poetry' edited by Robert Chandler, Boris Dralyuk, and Irina Mashinski

David Wells
29 October 2015

Translation is all about choice: which authors will be attractive to the target audience? Which texts by those authors will be of interest? Which aspects of those texts should be emphasised? How can ambiguities in the original be preserved or resolved? What relative weight should be given to formal and semantic elements? Historically, the translation of Russian lite ... More

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