Geoff Page

Review Short: Jill Jones’s Brink

It’s a neat twenty-five years since Jill Jones’s first book, The Mask and the Jagged Star, was published and in that time she has built for herself a reputation as a serious and ambitious poet whose work demands, and generally rewards, close reading. She is certainly not a poet of easy gestures or flashy effects.

Posted in BOOK REVIEWS | Tagged ,

John Woodcock Graves the younger [with] Truganini

So often reproduced and yet the message so elusive. John Woodcock Graves the younger, lawyer, writer, poet, ‘friend’, is standing high beside her, not quite profile, looking down, frock coat reaching to his knees. Truganini, Trugernanner, also known as Lalla …

Posted in 79: EKPHRASTIC | Tagged

Review Short: Amanda Anastasi and Robbie Coburn’s The Silences

These 41 pages from a revived Eaglemont Press (once run by the late, revered Melbourne poet, Shelton Lea) contain the first collections (or first half-collections) of Lea’s much younger fellow-Melbournians, Amanda Anastasi and Robbie Coburn. It’s analogous to two good friends buying a very small inner-city flat to get a toe-hold in the daunting real estate market of that city. Bigger things are sure to come later.

Posted in BOOK REVIEWS | Tagged , ,

Jessica Wilkinson Reviews Geoff Page

Geoff Page is a well-known figure in the Australian poetry scene: a prolific writer with over twenty books to his name and an established editor (recently of the 2014 and 2015 Best Australian Poems), yet perhaps known most widely as a reviewer. A regular feather-ruffler, Page’s reviews frequently appear in prominent publications such as the Age and the Australian. Page’s trust in, and loyalty to conventional verse forms is no secret; he often takes aim at more experimental or avant-garde Australian works, as if such attempts to broaden the field of Australian poetics are to be regarded with some suspicion.

Posted in BOOK REVIEWS | Tagged , ,

Review Short: Mike Ladd’s Invisible Mending

Adelaide poet, Mike Ladd, is best known for his long-running Poetica program on the ABC’s Radio National (eighteen years all up before its casual destruction in 2014). The breadth of taste and openness to a wide range of influences Ladd displayed in Poetica is also to be found in Invisible Mending, his first poetry collection since Transit in 2007.

Posted in BOOK REVIEWS | Tagged ,

Rob Wilson Reviews Best Australian Poems 2015

Australian poetry, and indeed poetry in Australia, always seems to be undergoing something of a personality crisis. From the bush ballad to Angry Penguins and beyond, Australians have a knack for producing poetry, and a unique language from which to create it, but it’s a cottage industry. Even ‘industry’ seems too strong a term for what Australian poetry produces, though we have (and have had) no shortage of skilled writers working at various levels of poesy and doing remarkable things.

Posted in BOOK REVIEWS | Tagged , , ,

Review Short: Dennis Haskell’s What Are You Doing Here? Selected Poems

Dennis Haskell’s new selected is part of an interesting trend. In the past few months three other Australian poets (Adrian Caesar, Jan Owen and Robyn Rowland) have also had books published overseas that, in more congenial times, might well have been published here. In each case there’s a plausible explanation but it’s an interesting phenomenon even so.

Posted in BOOK REVIEWS | Tagged ,

Sometimes in your later

Sometimes in your later years it is enough to read the titles only. shorthand for the contents you cannot quite recall. The sleety ironies of Philip Larkin, say, a flatness everybody knows but he defined, bending to his bike-clips. Wallace …

Posted in 68: NO THEME IV | Tagged

Duncan Hose Reviews Best Australian Poems 2014

Being in and of one’s time (in favour of it, in fact) means producing work that is sensitive to the discursive furies of the day – the atmosphere of mutating code that the poet must stick to poems in new and strange forms. All else is nostalgia and denial. No-one knows what it means that Australia’s imperial republic, whose god has finally been revealed as cosmopolitan capitalism, is, in the history of colonies, still in its infancy yet so impressively seems to be approaching an end of days. If you’ve got burnt chaps and a warm six-shooter (cowgirl), these are exciting times.

Posted in BOOK REVIEWS | Tagged , , , , ,

Geoff Page Reviews John Kinsella

John Kinsella’s latest foray into what has become known as ‘ecopoetics’ raises many more aesthetic and political questions than can be resolved in a short review. As in his Divine Comedy: Journeys Through a Regional Geography (2008), Kinsella makes vivid and considerable use of autobiography. He and his family are presented as embattled eco-pioneers in a region already much destroyed by bad farming practices, partly multi-national in origin, and roamed over at will by township hoons ready to shoot up anything that moves.

Posted in BOOK REVIEWS | Tagged ,

Art Tatum

1909 — 1956 The legends and the anecdotes are only half of it; Charlie Parker early on, night-club kitchen, washing plates just to hear the sound then saying as saxophonist ‘I wish I could play like Tatum’s right hand’; the …

Posted in 61: NO THEME III | Tagged

A Silence

We watch them sitting down beside us, (she, the latte; he, long black) and see them splitting up the paper (he, the sport, and she, the crossword). Five or forty years ago, we would have seen them leaning inwards antiphonal …

Posted in 60: SILENCE | Tagged

Kevin Brophy Reviews Geoff Page

In a 2007 review of one of Geoff Page’s previous verse novels, Lawrie & Shirley, Peter Goldsworthy names Page as a verse-novel ‘multiple offender’ in the excellent company of Murray, Porter, Wearne and Rubinstein. Goldsworthy approaches discussion of the form by reflecting, ‘If poetry is the most ancient literary form, as old as music, then the verse novel is surely the most ancient form of poetry, using the word novel loosely’ (Australian Literary Review, May 2007). The long and respectable polygamous marriage of poetry with narrative and history was, we might say, dissolved during the Romantic period, allowing the novel to find its ecological niche – and more than a niche, a whole territory.

Posted in BOOK REVIEWS | Tagged ,

Geoff Page Reviews Chris Wallace-Crabbe

Now a youthful 79, the Melbourne poet, Chris Wallace-Crabbe, has been an important figure in Australian poetry since the early 1960s. As a teacher, scholar, anthologist and organizer – as well as a poet with at least fourteen volumes to his name – Wallace-Crabbe has been central to much that has happened in Australian poetry over the past fifty years, especially in Melbourne. As with his friend, the late Peter Porter, Wallace-Crabbe’s lightly-worn erudition and distinctive sense of humour have ensured that his work is admired by many poets (and readers) across the aesthetic divisions in our poetry reaching back to the 1970s.

Posted in BOOK REVIEWS | Tagged ,

The Interlocutors: Poetry and Jazz in Collaboration

How do jazz and poetry talk to each other? Of course, they can lament their shared marginality to the majority culture – but that will take us only so far. They can boast of their heroic figures over a century (jazz) or the millennia (poetry). They can hyperventilate about the talents of the latest prodigies in either form, but that will almost always be ahead of the facts.

Posted in ESSAYS | Tagged , , , ,

The Anthologist

Of course, it is a work of love — and has the smell of dust about it, the love that settles from the air on everything unread. It has the whiff of toner, too, the creak of books split newly …

Posted in 43: OZ-KO (ENVOY) | Tagged

Pasternak and David Lean Maurice Jarre and Stalin

The bits don’t fit. . . Mr Whippy in the suburbs between the psalms of mowers and clean cars of a Sunday. The tune is mixing up its message: 6/8 on a high celeste the kind that wings might stroke …

Posted in 06: NEW POETRY | Tagged

The History of Mr Howard

Give me back the smell of pencils Monday morning in their boxes the mucilage and ink in inkwells the Mercator’s above the blackboard with half the world in red give me back that ‘firm but just’ preceptor of my childhood …

Posted in 06: NEW POETRY | Tagged