- 96: NO THEME IXSUBMIT NOW with M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRO AUSTRALIANwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones
In a judicious review of two ‘lucid and intelligent books’ on the job of the literary critic* and of a new edition of Eric Auerbach’s Mimesis, Edward Mendelsohn argued against the essential nostalgia of criticism in favour of a version of Kant’s ‘universal subjective’: finding ways to cross ‘the disputed border between popular and elite culture … without pretending it doesn’t exist’.
These two recent volumes from the distinguished Hunter Contemporary Australian Poets series are about as different from each other as umeboshi and camembert, and – as I’ve found when wanting to impress Japanese visitors with a striking new taste combination that has the energy and disorder of a good poem (to cite Tom Shapcott’s useful terms) – such obverses delight with both surprise and recognition.
David Gilbey’s long-standing connections with Japan take centre stage in Pachinko Sunset, a collection that embraces simple, direct form to explore a layered series of issues linked with this relationship. The titular ‘pachinko’ refers to a popular Japanese game akin to pinball, in which a cascade of small metal balls are released to strike pins and be channelled off into different locations, with different prize implications for each. This image is a fair comparison for the text as a whole, as Pachinko Sunset delivers a sequence of poems in constant activity, heading in numerous directions at once, yet intrinsically caught up in the anxieties and ironies of travelling, translating, and relating Australia to Japan.
‘…Poetry … puts the whole world out of whack’ according to MTC Cronin in her latest collection The Law of Poetry (2015) echoing the 1930s structuralist definition of poetry as ‘language made strange’.
I think the first poem in a first collection should carry some whack – should both seduce and disturb a reader. And so it is with ‘The Archivist’ at the beginning of In the Museum of Creativity: there are strange and confronting images and phrases which tease partly by problematising what and how we understand language and poetry.
For three weeks in Japan I’ve read and re-read Lisa Jacobson’s new collection of poems: in subways, on shinkansen, in parks, cafés, restaurants and my apartment – up on the twelfth floor of the hilly suburb, Dainohara, in Sendai. The poems, now fiercely dog-eared, have become my familiars; challenging, apostrophising and snaking/drifting/sidling into my consciousness, they have shaped my thinking and insinuated themselves into my conversations with ‘native English-speaking’ colleagues, Japanese friends and ex-students.
Jordie Albiston’s the Book of Ethel and Liam Ferney’s Boom illustrate two dramatic obverses in contemporary Australian poetry. Both are cleverly crafted; both have levels of subtlety and manifest strength; both are linguistically sinuous and inventive, taking liberties with conventional style and syntax; both use local vernaculars in contexts of global cultural pressures; both focus, often minutely, on particular individuals caught at moments of historical change and significance and, therefore, articulate and explore ‘political’ consequences and issues; both play – gloriously, ironically, iconoclastically – with language registers as a way of exposing implied ‘bigger pictures’. And yet these two collections are worlds apart in focus, style, nuance, framing and poetic affect.
“Andrew Sayers, director of the National Portrait Gallery, wrote of my work, ‘Trust is an important quality in portraiture. Trust is self evident in Juno Gemes’ photographic portraits’. The portraits published here were created in trust with literary friends.”