‘The pregunta’s cube sits in my imagination. It has begun to take on a meaning, a meaning that says, remember what you’re reading here Ali, it’s a poem by Joanne Burns, it can’t be translated, unlocked, puzzled out. It’s not for solving. It’s for reading.’
'In David Malouf’s latest two volumes of poetry, Earth Hour (2014) and An Open Book (2018) the dialogue between the world and the mind is an intimate and easeful – though mysterious – exchange, as clear and indefinite as the sky. The volumes are companions, in dialogue with each other and with people, culture and the natural world.'
'Robert Harris is an Australian poet of the highest order. He is also a curmudgeon, a contrarian, a nature lover, a working-class Romantic, a navy recruit who detested nationalism, a lyrical memoirist, a historical dramatist and one of Australia’s finest religious poets.'
John Mateer, over a long career, has been a poet of distance and locale, working with a continental sense of poetics, traversing land and sea in an inquiry into the nature of an historically-framed instant.
'How then to deal with this vast collection of poems? Synecdoche may be the best approach. I’ve long asserted both privately and in print, and not always light-heartedly, that it is only by the poet’s best fourteen poems that he or she is remembered. Of course, the number is arbitrary; it could be thirteen, fifteen or twenty but certainly not forty. A few poets have had to be posthumously content with one or two. Over time, however, due mainly to the work of successive anthologists and a few scholars, the poems that may once have filled six collections, or thirty, are filtered back to the fourteen or so that will reappear in anthologies every few years for the next century or two. This is not just laziness among compilers. There are good reasons why these fourteen should be re-run. Which then are Murray’s fourteen? I'
Whittaker uses English as both an object of ridicule and a tool of empowerment. In subverting the conventional rules of usage, she makes it her own. In her hand, English does and says and tells a different story. Audre Lorde said that the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. And they won’t. But Blak writers like Whittaker use these tools to carve out their own spaces to build other story – to re-story Country with the old stories, and to create new ones.
Pam Brown’s poems are not inimical to close reading, but they do resist it. What they seem to encourage, however, is a new mode of conceptual criticism: one that thinks about the conceptual on the line – and even the word – level (rather than that of the project, say). The short poetic segments that make up each whole provide (potentially infinite) new takes on the matter at hand: as extensions, corrections, additions, relocations. Brown’s poetry suggests reading as an active process: the poem being made as you read, not the poem waiting for your interpretation.
Beveridge’s fascination with the tactility and suggestiveness of names is really only a part of her interest in the sounds of the language themselves. It’s something we expect from lyric (or lyrical) poets but it isn’t always as overt and developed as it is in Beveridge’s poems.
Smith’s biggest achievement in Wade in the Water is her effort to stay true to all the different music she heard through writing the book and to reflect that in the sound of this book. The book is a gathering, and a chorus.
'The mediation of bilingual migrant writers extends past the challenges of securing publication. Bobis’s two most recent titles, the 2017 poetry collection Accidents of Composition and the 2015 novel Locust Girl, have received surprisingly little attention from critics writing for a non-academic readership... What this might suggest is that the reduction in spaces for discussion of literature, widely bemoaned, has particular implications for migrant writers – as evidenced by the steady decline in attention to an accomplished writer such as Bobis.'
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.
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.
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.
'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.'