Australian Poetry

Finding Australia’s
Lost Arabs

‘At times, as Arabs, lost in the world of displacement, marginalised by our dispersal, and racialised as inferior to our Western counterparts, we can become weary of our lived experiences as diasporic subjects. But with writing as empowering, affecting and beautiful as Sakr’s poetry, or testimonials as stimulating as those assembled by Abdel-Fattah and Saleh, can we dare become ‘tired’ of diaspora writing in any of its modes?’

Disrupting the Colonial Archive

While Archival-Poetics is predominantly text-based, I would not call it a book/s. Like most First Nations knowledge, it does not fit easily into Western categories. To me it felt more like a dream or a deep yarn or a walk through an exhibition – possibly all at the same time. The work is a collection, an archive in its own right, albeit a personal one.

Urban Ecopoetry:
Michael Aiken

‘Michael Aiken is a unique voice in contemporary Australian poetry, and in our time of ecological crisis he makes significant contributions to the crucial task of reimagining and interrogating the connections between the human and the natural, the urban and the pastoral, human society and the earth’s diverse, dynamic, and fragile ecologies.’

Breaking Through the Lines:
Crow College by Emma Lew

After you read and re-read awhile, you adjust your first impression about the volatility of Lew-world. You comprehend that she builds most of her poems around verbal devices that serve as vacuum pumps rather than gelignite lumps. There are no fireworks. Instead, a lot of things suck.

Reading apparently

‘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.’

Sky News and Compost: David Malouf’s An Open Book

'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 Redux

'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.' 

‘The Conundrum of the Instant’: on John Mateer

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.

Fourteen of the Best:
Les Murray’s Collected Poems

'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'

Ultima Thule: BlakWork by Alison Whittaker

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.

Click Here For What We Do by Pam Brown

A Nose For Furphies: Click Here For What We Do by Pam Brown

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.

Imaginative Expansions

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.

The Lakeside House

Melaleuca, the little yellow cottage Judith and Jack once owned...

Heaven, in a way, by Rodney Hall
Wade in the Water by Tracy K. Smith

Silhouettes

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.

Locust Girl by Merlinda Bobis

‘Kindness is a passage too’: new writing by Merlinda Bobis

'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.' 

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.