Greg McLaren

Greg McLaren is a poet, teacher and critic living in Sydney. His most recent books are After Han Shan (Flying Islands, 2012), The Kurri Kurri Book of the Dead (Puncher & Wattmann, 2007), Australian ravens (Puncher & Wattmann, 2016) and Windfall (Puncher & Wattmann, 2018).

camping underground

After The small town to the south-east of what’d seemed safe – the neat array of bodies in front yards feet first, entry wounds clean in their foreheads. And, looking closer – you always need to look closer – small …

Posted in 91: MONSTER | Tagged

At the Sidney Nolan Retrospective, 2008

It stretches past the vast windows to the Domain, the Harbour, the Cahill Expressway and its fugue of inner urban motoring, all the way back to Nolan’s desert, posted with Robert O’Hara Burke’s focusless eyes, azure, intense, a mad cosmology …

Posted in 79: EKPHRASTIC | Tagged


What whales are now began on land – the shores of Pakistan – and slowly shed hind legs, resorbed as relict stubs of bone that float inside the body, cartilage as memory that returns in freaks when genes that code …

Posted in 66: OBSOLETE | Tagged

Not under Lake Eucumbene

for Adrian, Bonny, Fiona and Lindsay State-owned water floated, a new sky. Raised floor plans are bones of fish in mud. Dead trees signpost hushed streets lined with rushes. Concrete steps lead up to an absence of church. Ochre struts …

Posted in 66: OBSOLETE | Tagged

Greg McLaren Reviews Phillip Gijindarraji Hall and Benjamin Dodds

These two debut collections cast shade and light upon one other. Both poets construct a complex, convincing and engaging sense of place, exploring belonging (or not) and being in it.

The strongest poems in Phillip Gijindarraji Hall’s Sweetened in Coals quiver and hiss with profusion, connections and abundance. These poems are firmly and specifically situated in place and in country that is constituted both ecologically and culturally. There’s a deep and rich conversation here about place and habitat. Hall’s representation and evocation of specific places is a consistently powerful presence in these poems – dynamic, in flux and abundant with the presence of animal, plant and cultural life.

Posted in BOOK REVIEWS | Tagged , ,


Walking home along New Canterbury Road I pass under a eucalypt I can’t name – the rumour of honey, the frayed brake lining of magpies – and I think of our walk around Manly Dam the first week of summer, …

Posted in 47: NO THEME! | Tagged

Childhood Trauma

After John Tranter   They burn the radio, they listen to the blue. The okapi farmers whisper at their meetings, and skirt the gardens. Their articles revel in a cultural effect. A multiple connection is enough, I suppose; it’s a …

Posted in 46: ELECTRONICA | Tagged

Greg McLaren: Robert Adamson in The Valley of Gwangi

There are terrible reptiles we never quite catch with our puny lassoes We leave camp in the morning disguised as animals – Eohippus the dawn horse, or the bird-mimic, Ornithomimus I never really believed it when I first laid eyes …

Posted in 32: MULLOWAY | Tagged

Mulloway (Envoi)

Welcome to the dreamy village of Mulloway, population 28.1, set in the backblocks of the Hawkesbury, somewhere in the vicinity of Sandy Bay, Peat Island and the Angler's Rest. The place is awash with ribbon-fish shaped streamers and the sound of a parade of Customlines passing down the main street toward the water, all to a sound track of late-period Bob Dylan and Emmylou Harris …

Posted in ESSAYS | Tagged ,

Writers Festival Pastoral

The room hovers with translucent light reflected from the ferries' harbour. Seats float, awash with the voices of well-known, but not major, Canadian poets. Stubby tops of pylons plug the water, a template of equidistant spacing, like a competent set …

Posted in 27: GENERATION OF ZEROES | Tagged

Greg McLaren: Bronwyn Bishop in The Hunt for Red October

When she proudly claims to be the “only Member of Parliament ever to go down all night on a submarine”, murderous impulses arise in the mind of the Buddhist tulku Steven Seagal.  

Posted in 27: GENERATION OF ZEROES | Tagged

Kurri Sonnet

Chocolate on your breath at the bus-stop is instant forgetting. In five minutes Kurri will recede from bus back window. Maitland will loom too slowly. Hamilton, Teralba. Soon Redfern, Sydney Central. Now the 5:31 from Cessnock slides down the hill, …

Posted in 03: NEXT WAVE | Tagged