Some good eggs on the poetry shortlist, including our own Jill Jones (yay
Jill!!! Hope you're cracking open that bubbly!) Good to see Dipti
recognised, as well as Shearsman getting a guernsey with MTC Cronin's book.
More or Less Than 1-100
More or Less Than 1-100 is astounding as much for its structure, rising from
one line to 50 lines and back again through a sequence of a hundred
sections, as for the hypnotic flow of its language. The poems' conjunction
of end and beginning might seek to emulate the famous "a' long the /
riverrun" of Finnegans Wake. Cronin's "ice follows water follows / not
simply the stream but they who thought of following" , more like channelling
than story-telling, immediately establishes a dense and heightened poetry.
While the purpose and identity of both speaker and addressed is withheld,
her language-world is marvellous and open.
Broken/Open courts the great themes of modern poetry notwithstanding Jill
Jones' obvious affiliation with "language poetry", a practice often implying
the abandonment of traditional subject and object relations and the
dislocation of syntax and grammar. In her case the celebration of language
itself is variously grafted to her poems of romantic love, the experience of
nature, evocations of the city. Writing that calls attention to itself by
deformation of narrative or extreme elision often jeopardises the beauty of
shape, sound and perception, yet many of these poems are riveting examples
of poetry's pure pleasure.
Five Islands Press
The title poem is a swastika in the middle of the page, constructed with
multiples of the word "domain". Another poem repeats its title in the shape
of the sinister double "s". Such visual poems punctuate McBryde's history of
Nazism's rise and fall but also puncture the expectation one might have of
history as the fact of the matter. The poems are cameos in a nightmarish
newsreel inhabited by spectres rather than reliable persons. Beyond the
horror and, of course, heroism, one's left with poignant paradox and the
The crucial contradiction suffusing Blister Pack is between the
authoritative style of its language and the vulnerability or natural
limitation of its anxious subject. David McCooey's opinions and observations
are so cleanly spelt out they might be omniscient epigrams rather than the
partialities of the typical citizen the poetry supposes. Although he plays
with language, building poems out of conversational habits to represent the
speech of the day and describe processes of representation, his poetry is
determinedly social and, such is his gift, charmingly sociable.
Five Islands Press
The poems in The Colosseum are startlingly bare. The poetry is strenuously
autobiographical, which is always a burden for lyrical language and one that
postmodern work readily relinquishes. Yet this collection could be described
as a postmodern confessional, it being discursive even in the midst of its
often rueful, albeit wryly amused testimony. It keeps its wits while baring
its soul. The inventory of oscillating exultation and despair, recorded with
as much worldly-wise as world-weary self-criticism, traverses Dipti
Saravanamuttu's islands of origin, yearning and ultimate settlement.
Editor, Masthead: http://masthead.net.au
Home page: http://alisoncroggon.com