Dog Lovers’ Poems, Jeff Kennett (ed)
‘Information Australia’, 2000
This collection features over a hundred pages of poetic platitudes about dogs and their loyalty, their friendship, the cute things and the cheeky things they get up to. The anthology was compiled by ex-Premier of Victoria Jeff Kennett, who put out a call for submissions while he was working at Melbourne talkback radio station 3AW.
As Kennett says in his brief introduction, where the authors are known they are acknowledged, and where they are not, he hopes that they are pleased that these poems will bring happiness to the thousands of people who helped the initial hardback print-run sell out, and who established demand for the revised paperback version, out just in time for Christmas last year. It is interesting to note that the only copyright assertion made in the small print of this book is “¬¨¬© Jeff Kennett”.
The known poets may well be acknowledged, but it would be interesting to know where the profits from this book's healthy sales are going. Maybe I'm just expecting the worst. Maybe each known contributor was indeed paid for their work, as any decent anthology with the wherewithal would see to. Who can say?
I can confidently say without recourse to undue hyperbole that this is by far the worst collection of poorly-written, badly-spelled poetry I have ever had the misfortune to encounter. There is little or no sense of structure here, no appreciation of the forms and capacities of poetry. Most of the work is in the form of couplets with generally mismatched meter and largely inexact rhyme. The sentimentality is cloying and the humour is obvious.
In context, though, these problems are irrelevant. This is not a book for lovers of poetry. It's a book for lovers of dogs. It may as well have been a glossy calendar filled with photos of border collies or a coffee mug with a cute puppy with milk smeared on its snout. It might be fair to say that this is an anthology of pure doggerel, but it's also fair to say that it probably never intended to be anything else.