David McCooey

David McCooey is a poet and critic, as well as a musician and photographer. His first four poetry collections were short-listed for major national prizes, including the Melbourne Prize for Literature. His most recent collection, The Book of Falling (Upswell 2023), experiments with photo-poems.

Pyramid Scheme

Text by Maria Takolander. Photographs by David McCooey. 1. X’s parents had died, first one and then the other. There had been the usual shock and then the hell of clearing out their marital home. Fifty years, and the place …

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Bathroom Abstraction

1. You once wrote the following in an essay in a book: ‘His poetry, ambivalent as a bathroom, acknowledges both the body’s pleasures and its incompetencies’. In response, a critic wrote that he only kind of knew what you meant. …

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Review Short: Judith Beveridge’s Sun Music: New and Selected Poems

Judith Beveridge’s Sun Music: New and Selected Poems begins with the eponymous poem of her debut collection, The Domesticity of Giraffes (1987), concerning a giraffe in a zoo.

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Questions of Travel

Elizabeth Bishop packs for Seattle, December 1965 Thus, liminality is frequently likened to death, to being in the womb, to invisibility, to darkness, to bisexuality, to the wilderness, and to an eclipse of the sun or moon. Victor Turner, The …

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Posing Cards

found poems i) Mom + Dad Hug Have the couple half hug with their arms crossing in the front. Tell Mom to slightly lean her head into Dad. ii) Family of 5 Standing Have Mom and Dad stand together and …

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Playing with Light and Dark: Amy Hilhorst Interviews David McCooey

I first became interested in David McCooey’s work while studying an Honours unit at the University of Western Australia, where for an assessment I responded to his essay on Chris Wallace-Crabbe’s poetry, only to learn that he too had taken the same unit some years before.

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Intensive Care (ii)

There had been an earlier waking, though, in the ICU, a time you have deeply forgotten, when you had the worst of it—the pain, the detubation, the harrowing scenes of your return to life. Your wife witnessed it, graphically laying …

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Jim Morrison’s Aubade

You grab my morning hard-on, and we are borne to the immortal motel where we will lodge a brief lifetime, sheltering from an Egyptian sun that burns down upon the illegible gravestones in the withered cemetery. The feathered Indian chants …

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Review Short: John Tranter’s Heart Starter

What is more old-fashioned than modernity? New York in the 1960s; Paris in the 1920s; Edwardian England: how entranced we are by the bygone milieu of modernity. John Tranter has long appreciated the poetic potential of the almost-new, almost-old, as seen in his poems on movies, jazz, the New York School, and so on. But as seen in his latest book, Heart Starter, his interest in such things is not merely nostalgic. Rather, his work is obsessed with remixing the magic pudding of modernity. The past, in other words, is there to be used, not revered or sentimentalised. Tranter’s poetic revisionism treats source texts and forms as transitional objects (to use Winnicott’s term) that offer open-ended play and creativity, rather than demand compliance.

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David McCooey Reviews Jennifer Maiden

Jennifer Maiden’s Drones and Phantoms opens with ‘Diary Poem: Uses of Live Odds’, a poem that juxtaposes – in a way characteristic of Maiden’s intensely synthesising work – politics, aesthetics, and gambling. Poetry, of course, is a kind of gamble, one in which the stakes are at once ridiculously low (financially speaking) and ridiculously high (personally speaking). Writing a poem – like any creative act – is a risky venture. One’s subjective experience of being creative never fully underwrites the created artefact. And as a communicative act, poetry runs the ever-present risk of obscurity and/or inconsequence.

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David McCooey Reviews Peter Rose and Ken Bolton

The opening poem of Peter Rose’s Crimson Crop – which recently won a Queensland Literary Award – brings together illness, noise, and madness in a powerful vision of human frailty. In that poem, ‘Prelude’, the poet relates seeing a man at the Rome Railway Station banging his head on vending machines, while his countrymen ‘rushed to their trains, / fearful, cashmered, blinkered, / avoiding this glimpse / of what their brother had become’.

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Collective Hypnosis (Found South American Poem)

[audio:|titles=Collective Hypnosis – David McCooey] Collective Hypnosis (Found South American Poem) (1:41) Written and produced by David McCooey

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David McCooey Reviews Craig Sherborne

As illustrated by his extraordinary memoir, Hoi Polloi (2005), Craig Sherborne has many strengths as a writer. He has immense tonal control (and can range from the tragic to the farcical in a breath); he has an extraordinary ear for the language and hypocrisy of class; he is one of our great contemporary satirists; and he has a genius for the telling anecdote and detail.

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