John Mateer



Christopher Brown Reviews John Mateer

Of the 62 sonnets that make up John Mateer’s João, 58 are given to ‘Twelve Years of Travel’ and only four to the second and final section, ‘Memories of Cape Town’. This weighting emphasises travel not so much as the mode of exception but as regular or even habituated experience, while suggesting only a marginal place for the ‘home’ of Mateer’s South African origins.

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Jennifer Mackenzie Reviews John Mateer

A defining scene in Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s historical novel, Arus Balik (Cross-currents), portrays the moment in 1511 when colonial power came to the Southeast Asian archipelago. In the following passage about the fall of Malacca, Pramoedya presents a society unaware (or ‘becalmed’ as Pramoedya puts it) of what is about to confront it.

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Unbidden: Settler Poetry in the Presence of Indigenous Sovereignty

Influenced and shaped by some fifty years of Indigenous poetry in English, the last couple of decades of Australian settler poetry have advanced prolific attempts to ‘write (oneself) into the country’ (Van Teeseling 209): producing varied and sometimes radical poetries of regionality, topography, climate, and the histories, narratives and landmarks running through and over them. I contend that such contemporary work by settler poets presents a continuum – varyingly compelling attempts to write in the presence not only of Indigenous poetry, but also colonisation’s ongoing effects and of un-ceded Indigenous sovereignty.

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Bonny Cassidy Reviews Contemporary Australian Literature: A World Not Yet Dead

As Feature Reviews Editor and sometime reviewer for Cordite Poetry Review it is an unusual (and therefore fun) privilege to consider a title in which poetry is critically addressed in the company of other forms. Too often it is it either quarantined within poetry-only criticism, or mentioned as an embarrassing aside to discussions of prose.

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Sonnet from João of iGoli

Sublime, as the cliché would have that aria, at breakfast in a Brisbane cafe. Which? João can’t remember the opera, though he does, well, the Singaporean poet Cyril, the singer. Years later João would read, when young, he had been …

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I.M. Tomaž Šalamun (4 July 1941- 27 December 2014)

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The War Hero and His Poem

Photo by Kent MacCarter On the weekend after Tony Abbott, the Australian Prime Minister, announced that the Australian Defence Force would be assisting the US forces in attacking ISIS, the war hero Ben Roberts-Smith was featured in the magazine section …

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E is for Errand (East Coast of Africa)

Introduction ‘E is for Errand’ is an extract from the draft of a libretto named The Bones of the Epic. As it stands, it is a work from regress – not in progress. Regress because the current text is a …

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Lucy Van Reviews John Mateer

2 x JM booksIn his two most recent books, the prolific John Mateer presents work developed over the long haul. His concluding essay in Unbelievers is a reflection on the seven years of writing behind that body of work, and Emptiness emphasises in its subtitle the 14-year scope of that collection. Despite the years of writing they represent, both collections bear a freshness of focus, expressed through Mateer’s formulation: ‘the irony of Elsewhere’.

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David Shook Interviews John Mateer

I first met John Mateer in London, at a reading at PEN International’s Free the Word! festival, where the international outlook of his poetry intrigued me. We corresponded regularly by email from that point forward, both of us often on the road, discussing poetry, translation, and travel. Mateer is a cosmopolitan poet, an international poet too little known on this side of the Pacific. His poems resonate with a deeply empathetic vision of the natural world and its inhabitants, be they Australian lizards or the translators he compares to angels, an assertion I can only aspire to live up to as translator myself.

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Nativism and the Interlocutor

The gypsy siguiriya begins with a terrible scream that divides the landscape into two ideal hemispheres. It is the scream of dead generations, a poignant elegy for lost centuries, the pathetic evocation of love under other moons and other winds. …

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Adam Aitken Reviews John Mateer

Southern BarbariansSouthern Barbarians (Giramondo Publishing, 2011)

Southern Barbarians is a book that explores both the colonised and the colonizing impulse through the inflections of the Portuguese epic Os Lusíadas by Camões, the explorer/soldier/poet-traveller and heroic poet of the Portuguese. The book ranges from Lisbon to Macao, taking in Indonesia, Malaysia, Warrnambool, and Japan on the way. This is a world where African businessmen in Macao see ‘African wildlife’ in a travel agent’s window, in an image of savannah they are no closer to than the Macanese.”

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