Anne-Marie Newton

Review Short: Tracy Ryan’s The Water Bearer

‘… the poem / will cover a multitude of signs.’ This line, appearing early in West Australian author Tracy Ryan’s ninth poetry collection, can be read as connecting directly to what’s been posited as the very purpose of poetry: to confound or thicken language, to free it from its mere communicative dimension, as Walter Benjamin might put it, and allow it to bump up against things-in-themselves.

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Review Short: Susan Fealy’s Flute of Milk

Award-winning Melbourne poet Susan Fealy’s first full-length collection is an engrossing and richly resonant volume, one that – like all good artworks – reveals greater connective complexity with each subsequent encounter. The work is divided into two parts, with section one’s epigraph drawing the first sixteen poems into a meaning formation that takes off from a Louise Glück work.

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Review Short: Tina Giannoukos’s Bull Days

The first poem of Tina Giannoukos’s second collection ends with the line, ‘In space I hold the horn of plenty’. This reference to the classical symbol of abundance foreshadows the poetic landscape that follows in Bull Days, a volume teeming with external allusion and internal reverberation.

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Review Short: Dennis Haskell’s Ahead of Us

‘Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything,’ wrote C. S. Lewis in a work of prose, published soon after his wife died. Under such conditions poets are apt to explore their grief by way of lyricism, and, while it is uncommon in the Australian context, recent years have seen several international male poets producing collections in just these circumstances. From the United Kingdom, for instance, we have Douglas Dunn’s Elegies and Christopher Reid’s A Scattering, and, from the United States, Donald Hall’s Without.

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Review Short: Ali Cobby Eckermann’s Inside My Mother

Celebrated South Australian writer Ali Cobby Eckermann’s fourth volume of poetry, Inside My Mother, is her most substantial and diverse collection to date. Although the book includes a handful of reworked earlier pieces, most of the seventy-three poems are new. Across four sections, these poems enrich and intensify the politically urgent subject matter that Cobby Eckermann’s oeuvre has, over the past decade or so, addressed so effectively. As an Aboriginal descended from the Yankunytjatjara language group, Cobby Eckermann’s chief concern is to express what she sees as the untold truth of Aboriginal people, both in terms of vital aspects of their culture, as well as regarding the (ongoing) detrimental impact of European colonisation. In this new work, Cobby Eckermann’s personal story provides a strong substructure in relation to which these larger issues are artfully explored.

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Anne-Marie Newton Reviews L K Holt

Melbourne poet L. K. Holt’s third collection, Keeps, is an expansively intertextual and complexly layered work. Published as part of a substantial volume that includes the reissue of her two earlier collections, this is often dense and intellectually oriented poetry. There is, however, an intriguing personal thread interlacing the ensemble, wherein the poet – perhaps more so in this collection than in her earlier works – offers a view into some of her deeper existential concerns.

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Response in Negative

Wrote an extensive treatise insisting Life is change, having canvassed the canons, philosophy, science, so on, but centring on one life— I renounce it all. Should not have changed. Should have stayed cleanly bathed in my light- house gaze, casting, …

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Reading Nietzsche at Twilight

Under the smallish light of the only lamp she works to incorporate words, time, the disadvantages of history for life. But the promise of this moment, Yes, is blocked: most impossible of knots. The air is stopped, the clock’s sound …

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