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
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
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
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
Australian poetry has always been influenced by international literary trends, especially avant-garde or experimental ones, from the French Symbolists to US 'Language Writing' from around 1970 to the present. A curious aspect of this has been a kind of hybrid poet who can straddle both 'experimental' and 'romantic' traditions. Given the increased popularity of exper ... More
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biography of T.S. Eliot, the first with permission from the Eliot estate to quote the poet's correspondence and unpublished work, highlights the Young Eliot as – not least in the achievement of his poetry – always an Old Eliot.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
'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
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
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
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