Judy Johnson



Is Contemporary Australian Poetry Contemporary Australian Poetry?

Poet, if you’re looking for your name in this essay, jump ahead a couple of pages. There I begin talking about poets collected in this anthology. Those of you interested in a review about contemporary Australian poetry, let’s begin here.

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Review Short: Lisa Jacobson’s The Asylum Poems and Judy Johnson’s Counsel for the Defence

The prettiness of the language is a curious choice, though, given the raw horror of the subject matter. Closely observed grotesque details, like the father yelling ‘Towels! ’ as he carries his bleeding brother over the threshold of their Iraqi home, are among the sequence’s most satisfying moments.

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Review Short: Judy Johnson’s Stone Scar Air Water

Stone Scar Air WaterDriven by elemental themes and images, Stone Scar Air Water derives its title from this collection’s penultimate poem as well as from the four sections that, albeit in different order, comprise the book. For Judy Johnson, ‘scar’, or scarring, its lines drawn by history and inheritance, joins the ranks of stone, air and water.

The poet’s long-held interest in history is everywhere in evidence. As Martin Langford notes in his cover blurb, this entails, in part, a shift to poems that invoke the poet’s personal history – or at least, proffer an outwardly autobiographical, first person voice – alongside other, sometimes narrative, poems that draw on the historical archive. As with Johnson’s previous collection, Navigation, the wider world is often brought to bear on individual lives.

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