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Issue Details: First known date: 2017... vol. 12 2017 of Australian Poetry Review est. 2006- Australian Poetry Review
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Contents

* Contents derived from the 2017 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
Rereadings I : Rodney Hall : Terra Incognita, Martin Duwell , single work review
'Terra Incognita is the first of three novels grouped under the general title of The Island in the Mind and published twenty years ago. More importantly it is the first of a series of seven novels devoted, at least on the surface, to tracing the history of a small part of the south coast of New South Wales called Yandilli in the books but recognisable as the area around Bermagui and Tilba. But, as with Marquez’s Macondo in his Hundred Years of Solitude, the single small location stands as a symbol for the nation it is part of and so the heptalogy presents a view of Australia’s history up to the Second World War. And it is a view which begins more than a century before the arrival of the “first fleet”: like the Americas, Australia is a country that could be said to have been invented before it was discovered. The novels themselves, as one would expect, have complex interrelationships. They also have a complex order of composition (not entirely unlike the Star Wars saga), beginning with Captivity Captive, the sixth, so that the order of writing (and publishing) is: 6, 4, 5, 1, 2, 3, 7. Terra Incognita concerns itself with the earliest phase of Australian history beginning with the writing of an opera in a small and unidentifiable European country in the middle of the seventeenth century.' (Introduction)
Note: January
Antigone Kefala : Fragments, Martin Duwell , single work criticism review
'One of the things about Antigone Kefala’s fifth book of poetry (her first, The Alien, was published all of forty-three years ago) that stays in the corner of your mind as you read it, is the title. Nothing could seem less fragmentary than these elegantly shaped lyric poems which are marked out by their self-contained unity. The fact that four of the poems carry a “II” after their titles and that there is no equivalent “I” in the book leaves the reader with the impression that the poems of this volume might have been chosen from a much larger corpus of work and so, in a sense, the entire book might be said to be no more than fragments of that larger work. And then, of course, there is the possibility that with increasing age – one of the themes of the poems – one might well want to find some fragments to shore against your ruins. But I think the issue is a bit more complex than that and that perhaps the answer lies in one of Kefala’s most important (and compulsively readable) works, her Sydney Journals, where excerpted journals record daily life in Sydney and on travels.' (Introduction)
Note: February
Kevin Brophy : This Is What Gives Us Time, Martin Duwell , single work criticism

'Kevin Brophy’s This Is What Gives Us Time together with David Musgrave’s Anatomy of Voice are the first two productions of a new press, GloriaSMH – a name which derives from the wartime Parisian resistance group and thus, like Puncher & Wattmann, conceals a Beckett allusion (and the morse code for GSMH makes a very satisfying logo). This Is What Gives Us Time is, to me, the most satisfying of Brophy’s books since Mr Wittgenstein’s Lion. His contribution to Radar, a book shared with Nathan Curnow, was a set of prose poems which had a decidedly abstract ring (as prose poems often do) and Walking, from 2013, has always seemed to me to have a slightly unfocussed quality. The overall shape of Brophy’s poetry, despite its unchanging interests and values, seems to be a move away from documenting life in a Melbourne suburb towards elegant abstraction. A few poems are no sort of evidence, of course, but a comparison of the first lines of Brophy’s first book, Replies to the Questionnaire on Love, with the first lines of this new book will give some idea of what I mean:

'In my street

there are fig trees and grape vines in back yards

and stone lions guarding front gates . . .

and

Fountains work hard to be joyous for us. Look how they

keep their mouths open.' (Introduction)

Note:

Posted 1 March

Amanda Joy : Snake Like Charms, Martin Duwell , single work criticism

'It’s probably significant that this review is appearing the day after a Victorian mother’s photograph of her two-year-old daughter which accidentally captured a very large and nasty looking brown snake sliding past the girl’s feet appeared in substantial numbers of digitised news media at home and abroad. There are snakes everywhere in Amanda Joy’s excellent Snake Like Charms – a first book full of poems celebrating or recording such accidental meetings – and I won’t be the first critic to warn those readers who are sent into fits of the heebie-jeebies by the very idea of snakes that this may be a book they need to leave on the shelf. The poems work through all the possible significances they might have: they are there as nasty surprises, venomous threats to children, fellow-parents, Medusa’s famous locks and benevolent incarnations of the great Rainbow Serpent. Almost all the poems are intriguing and they range in complexity from fairly simple accounts of meetings (“Brown Snake, North Lake”) to challenging poems like the book’s first, “Almost Pause / Pareidolia”. (Introduction)

Note:

Posted April

Luke Fischer : A Personal History of Vision, Martin Duwell , single work essay
'The first section of this, Luke Fischer’s second book, is called “Retrospect” and begins, significantly, with a poem in which the author looks backwards.' (Introduction).
Note: Posted 1 May
Shevaun Cooley : Homing, Martin Duwell , single work essay
'At an initial glance, almost everything about Shevaun Cooley’s first book, Homing, suggests the programmatic. It’s so highly organised, from its division into two locations (each introduced by its co-ordinates) to its poem titles (all derived from the poems of R.S Thomas) that it is hard not to expect it to be rationalised as something like “a series of studies in the phenomenon of being at, and getting, home”. The problem with a “series of studies” is that it suggests poems being written to fill out a frame rather than being written because they have to be. It also suggests a project that can be justified in an application for a grant or admission into a Creative Writing degree. And usually the core of the program, the area of interest, is quite specific and thus slightly simplified, perhaps even conceived extra-poetically. It’s a relief to find that Homing is actually a much more difficult book than it looks on the surface. My sense, though it is no more than a reader’s guess, is that the programmatic element arrived at a fairly late stage as a way of giving the book a sense of unity. The poems, taken in themselves, are, in other words, a little more open and resistant to simplification than one might initially think.' (Introduction)
Note: Posted 1 June 2017
John Kinsella: On the Outskirts, Martin Duwell , single work single work essay

'For readers daunted by the sheer size of John Kinsella’s poetic output (not to mention the at-least-superficially unappetising “experimental” books, beginning with Syzygy and finishing up with the recent publication of a three volume collected Graphology series) this new volume probably provides a welcoming introduction. If you want to get exposed to the hyperactive Kinsella poetic world, On the Outskirts (together with the earlier Jam Tree Gully) can be recommended as a good place to start. Most of the distinctive Kinsella obsessions are there but the poems themselves work in ways that will be familiar to most readers of contemporary poetry.' (Introduction)

Note:

Posted 1 August

Alan Wearne: These Things Are Real and as Editor: With the Youngsters, Martin Duwell , single work essay

'Here are two books which, put together, show Wearne in three of his most important poetic roles: as maker of the best verse narratives Australia has produced, and as satirist and as teacher. Perhaps this final role should be modified slightly since With the Youngsters is not a book about how to go about teaching the writing of poetry at university level but rather an anthology of what students and their teacher have, over the years, produced when faced with the task of writing something collectively in two of the most demanding fixed forms. If anything, then, it might be more accurate to speak of Wearne in his little-commented-on role of explorer of fixed poetic forms. The big verse-narratives – The Nightmarkets and The Lovemakers – never seem happy to operate entirely in Wearne’s distinctive blank verse and are always ready to rise to the challenge of one of the available forms.' (Introduction)

Note:

Posted 1 September

Kate Middleton : Passage, Martin Duwell , single work essay

'Kate Middleton’s first book, Fire Season, contained, spread throughout the book, a group of poems built out of the biographies of Hollywood actresses interwoven with other, often personal, material. As a group these poems tend to progress towards more self-conscious “essays” so that Doris Day becomes part of an essay on purity, Judy Garland an essay on absence, and Clara Bow an essay on erasure. I begin with these not to tease out their meanings but to show that the model of poems in a particular mode spread throughout a book – which is how this new book, Passage, is constructed – is something that is present from the beginning. A writer should always avoid contemporary critical cant but this does seem a case where the word, “braiding”, is unavoidable. You can apply it to the methods of the construction of individual poems like the actress ones, or even, in the case of Middleton’s second book, Ephemeral Waters, to a single, hundred page poem which follows the course of the Colorado River and thus mimics the interlaced flow of the water.' (Introduction)

Note:

Posted 1 December

Fay Zwicky : The Collected Poems of Fay Zwicky, Edited and Introduced by Lucy Dougan and Tim Dolin, Martin Duwell , single work essay

'There is a minor but delicate problem with this book that arises right at the beginning and is reflected in the heading of this review: how should it be titled. Released, according to its publisher’s website, days before Zwicky’s death, The Collected Poems of Fay Zwicky, edited by Lucy Dougan and Tim Dolin, has a distinctly posthumous sound to it, rather like a scholarly edition of a classic author – The Collected Poems of Kenneth Slessor, for example. Marvellous as Zwicky’s poetry can be – and I have always felt that her intense ethical engagement with the world coupled with a very tough, intelligent and humorous scepticism about virtually everything including herself, has made her one of the Australian poets who speaks most sympathetically to me – it isn’t yet that of an established classic and the title might be criticised as an attempt to smuggle her in immediately after her death. It is, in the long run, a minor issue but one feels for the publisher and editors who must have pondered long and hard over the title.' (Introduction)

Note:

Posted 1 November

Shastra Deo : The Agonist; Charlotte Guest : Soap, Martin Duwell , single work essay

'Shastra Deo’s poems seem to inhabit the same symbolic space. This makes The Agonist recall something like Galway Kinnell’s Book of Nightmares (though there may be much more recent and current examples outside the scope of my reading) despite the fact that the tone of the poems is much different. But you feel that there is a continuous symbolic landscape that the poems inhabit even though different poems occupy different parts of that landscape. Generally, the poems, as the title suggests, are about conflicts but these conflicts are never the clash of immovable objects or positions. An even more important principle in the mini-mythology Deo has created is that conflicts involve interpenetrations: these are poems where the border lines between one individual and another, or between an individual and the world are, if clearly defined, important sites of definition, mapping and change. Though many of the poems explore relationships between individuals, these are often people who have some sort of stake with each other, as lovers, brothers, parents and children.' (Introduction)

Note:

Posted 1 October

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Last amended 18 Jan 2018 11:53:22
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