Australian Poetry

Fingertip of the Tongue by Sarah Rice book cover

Textures of Language and Thought: Sarah Rice

Sarah Rice’s poems both advocate a poetry that is attuned to the heart, the body, and the spirit, along with the brain, and embody this poetics in richly metaphorical, euphonious, descriptive, and synaesthetic language.

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The SRB is an initiative of The Writing and Society Research Centre at Western Sydney University

Lunar Inheritance by Lachlan Brown book cover

Time’s Moebius Strip

I first met Lachlan at Gleebooks in Sydney in 2014, at the launch of Judith Beveridge’s Storm and Honey. I remember speaking with him, and being confounded when he gave me his business card. He didn’t look like a ‘Brown’ – Lachlan is half-Chinese, and I had immediately assumed he would have a Chinese surname. In Lunar Inheritance, he explores the complexities of ethnic origin and identity as sited on his body and in his explorations of suburban Ashfield as well as the city of Guangzhou in China.

The Collected Poems of Fay Zwicky book cover

Becoming Fay Zwicky

For most people, the great adventures of their lives are births, love affairs, illnesses, bereavements, starting businesses or changing jobs. Insights into our selves and our loved ones come through the difficult enough business of living together. Fay Zwicky writes about the way in which daily practices connect with deep struggles, the way culture lives, not in grand gestures and ritualised moments, but in commonplaces and taken for granted ways of thinking about things.

Rae Desmond Jones (1941-2017): ‘The fractured poetry / of commerce and power’

'Rae Desmond Jones has stated that for him poetry and politics are mutually contradictory pursuits, yet his poetry, concerned with how people and classes interact, is, like all art, necessarily political.'

Amanda Stewart
Have Been and Are by Brook Emery book cover

An Amazing Shorthand

'Like some austere ancestor, venerated, often denigrated, notoriously difficult and spiky, philosophy has the reputation for being rational and analytic, seeking an entirely objective account of things as they are. Poetry is, for many, the most subjective form of writing, heavily reliant on emotion rather than cool reasoning.'

Fragments by Antigone Kefala book cover

In Short Measures: Fragments by Antigone Kefala

'The title Fragments refers to more than just the extent of the poems; it also hints at broken-ness, loss, the passage of time that takes us out of life. This is confirmed by the themes Kefala tackles in this collection, most of them pitched in a minor key.'

Ghostspeaking by Peter-Boyle book cover

A Kaleidoscope of Experience: Ghostspeaking by Peter Boyle

'In this new work,  Peter Boyle looks away from the centres of Anglophone poetry that so often form the tradition with which Australian poets place themselves in conversation, and instead seeks alternate points of correspondence. The eleven ‘fictive’ poets that he conjures for his reader here are poets that are exist in ‘translation’, from non-existent bodies of work in Spanish and French... The twelfth voice that stitches them together, that of the ‘translator’ we may as well call Peter Boyle, is equally fictive, equally real.'

Charlie Twirl by Alan Gould book cover

Canberra, Schooled

'It would seem then that, after fifty years or so, the so-called ‘Canberra School’ is still loosely ‘conservative’, though that single and somewhat pejorative adjective massively oversimplifies the variety to be found here. These new collections by Alan Gould, John Foulcher, Paul Cliff and Melinda Smith are all fine examples of the strength and diversity of poetry to be found in our capital city (and its regions) at the moment. The ‘Canberra School of Poetry’ may never have quite existed but clearly something substantial has.'

Contemporary Australian Poetry Book Cover

A Storehouse of Poems:
Contemporary Australian Poetry

'If Contemporary Australian Poetry with its size and inclusiveness is the defining work of the poetry of this period it raises the question of how successfully it meets the requirements of this task. Its making (like that of any other anthology) poses a lot of problems. Editors of general anthologies have to make two fairly tricky judgements: whom to include and omit, and how many poems one poet is represented by in comparison to another. Since, judging by the editors’ introduction, the impetus behind this anthology is as much celebrative as it is forensic, it seems that the answer to the first question is: As many as possible, since a celebration of richness necessarily involves including as many poets as possible.'

joanne burns portrait
Word Migrants Hazel Smith Cover

Discomfort Enacted In Writing: Word Migrants by Hazel Smith

What we are meant to think about are words, about the capacity of language to do other than what it seems to be doing.

Towards the Equator by Alex Skovron

Alex Skovron: A Sweeping Range: Towards the Equator

Skovron’s work falls across a number of complex cultural modes. While he has many important things to say about the migrant experience, he also has much to say about more general issues relating to human ontology, as well as to his experience of living in Sydney and Melbourne.

The Mastery of π.o.
Fitzroy: The Biography

What is this obsession with facts, so insistent in Fitzroy: The Biography, that their enumeration appears to be fundamental to the composition of the book? One obvious explanation would be that the foregrounding of fact dramatises the encounter with history, which after all presents itself primarily in the form of documents and testimonies. But this can’t be a full answer, first because while the outlines of the featured characters are drawn from historical sources, the facts that embellish them generally are not; and second because Π.O.’s interest in the poetic use of facts and statistics goes back decades, well before the writing of Fitzroy: The Biography.