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Extractive Realism single work   criticism  
Issue Details: First known date: 2009... 2009 Extractive Realism
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'Here is a fine haiku by the Japanese poet Seishi, a twentieth-century master:

The signal pistol
Echoes on the hard surface
Of the swimming pool.
(Blyth 346)

And this tiny gem is by the contemporary Australian writer Robert Gray, matching Seishi for precision even though Gray's poem is fashioned from a much looser part of the world:

Torpid farmland afternoons.
A windmill stirs
as a bubble breaks in buttermilk.
(Gray 'Twenty Poems' 91)

Entire systems of reality are sketched quickly but exactly in these works. Shifts of scale spring from quickly conjured settings. Note all the perspectives offered in each poem, how in an instant your sensibility grabs several vantages on the scenes. Conjunctions of heat and smell and sound all shuttle across your cognitive frame, putting you here and there in a flash, giving you sudden and intense access to realities within the settings that are being witnessed. From the intimacy of your own witnessing body, you span out to encompass sharp details of large places-the hard acoustic slap in a swimming pool that's big enough for tournaments; the almost-imperceptible transpiration across flatland paddocks that need more water than raw nature supplies. And then in the next instant, as the meagre syllables slip along, memories pulse suddenly within you to bring you quickly back close to yourself via past time. All this occurs in a rhythm that folds the larger world and you together unstintingly. Appreciating Seishi's and Gray's crystalline miniatures, you know closeness as well as vastness in a retinue of glimmering moments. Emphasising definitive details of lived experience so exactly, both poems are realist.'

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Last amended 27 Aug 2010 10:19:24 Extractive Realismsmall AustLit logo Australian Humanities Review
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