Wednesday, September 19, 2007


A visitor tells me he's a poet, from China, and asks about Chinese poets in Melbourne. He also tells me, casually, there are a million (did he really say a million?) poets in China. Incredible, though given a population of a billion (more?) a million is only a millionth! No --a customer looking for Robert Burns corrects me --it's a thousandth! But a million practicing poets --publishing, partying (I'm thinking drinking here, not toeing the line), in print and on the internet --astonishing to contemplate!
I offer Ouyang Yu as the most visible Chinese poet in Melbourne if not Australia. He doesnt know him (one in a million?) but as he glances at the books I show him he thinks he may have encountered him before. His opinion of our man is less interesting to me than the image he's sown in my imagination of the million poets, which shivers me in delight as well as dread as images of vastness always do.
Ouyang Yu has been visiting me at the Shop for years --late 80s, early 90s --ever since Alex Miller introduced us. Heaps of sympathy for this poet/translator post-Tianamin Square, but I had to smile when I read Kerry Leves in Overland a year or so ago, describing his annoyance with the poet whose signature style often includes insult & recrimination, albeit as exemplary post-colonial, anti-racist, post-modernist, militant non-Anglo-Australian --though, who or what is he in China? --one of the million among the millions, home away from home?
What's good for the goose is good for the gander seemed to be Kerry Leves's attitude : he accepted Ouyang's proffered mutual exclusivity. End of story. Ouyang does a good line in vitriol,invective, upsetting the bourgeois, but that's hardly unique in poetry throughout the ages (the Catullan spirit as it were). For my part, I confess that the same type of delight & dread, curiousity & discomfort as informs one's "Australian" take on "China" obtains in Ouyang Yu's regard.
It is the 5,000 year sweep of Chinese poetry, especially the T'ang & Sung periods to which English-language translators have paid particular attention, that amazes one. Its sheer length & breadth. In poetry there is no past which has passed forever; all poetry is constantly contemporary in the purview of translator & reader. As reader-poets we are constantly bearing up the past, bringing it through. Ouyang Yu knows that --and he also knows what's going down now : the complete opposition in China to any sense of tradition, and he seems happy to represent it, to practice it himself. However, he didnt demur when I said that reading several anthologies of contemporary Chinese poetry in 2003/04, as research, if you like, for the Dear Takamura poems I was writing then (for which, obviously, I was also exploring the Japanese poet Takamura & his ill-fated artist wife Chieko), I was, rightly or wrongly, struck by a continuity of that clarity & directness, that world-as-it-is-ness, that occupation of the present (ramifying as either timeless or momentary)... Of course there's a difference between wistful equanimity and in-your-face Punk anti-literature, but even so...
To Ouyang's "mildly & sensitively anti-Western" attitude, as I say to him, "mildly & sensitively" (the phrase he uses in the introduction to his anthology, In Your Face : Contemporary Chinese Poetry in English Translation, pub. Otherland, 2000), I am as Western as he is not, as English as he is Chinese, as Australian as he is. That is, I come to poetry as a person of place & time --perhaps I can also say that I come to language in this way --and the poems I write or have written both represent that historical situation and find (however conscious the seeking) a something-else, a somewhere-else.
Perhaps our biggest difference relates to the part of "offense" in our attitude & work --practically non-existent in mine, almost a raison d'etre for Ouyang (see Bias : Offensively Chinese/Australian, pub. Otherland, 2007). Some contend quietly, others noisily with the ruling culture or the culture's current pleasure. John Kinsella tangentially fields Ouyang's figure of "paradise"; he translates it politically : "(...)there is no paradise in Australia, at least for the majority, but there is certainly a worse "no paradise" for some more than others, and certainly for some 'ethnicities' more than others." --Letter to Ouyang Yu, p10, Bias. However imposing the political is, it's only & always a partial truth; in this case "a worse 'no paradise'" is politically cute but ultimately a semantic tease.
Paradise is the central metaphor for the countries & cultures of emigration, the migrant's metaphor, the metaphor of migrant spirit, per se. And "no paradise" is its definitive & therefore indispensable corollary. Yes, it is the political & so too the psychological modus operandi; and it is the metaphor, the myth & archetype. And the poet is to know this and write to & from this knowledge. I've probably said all this before, "mildly & sensitively", in conversation with Ouyang Yu. The "angry poet" has been equally civil!
I'm moved by the complaint that it's "so difficult in this time for Chinese intellectuals to live intellectually in Australia." (A Tree That Hit The Granite Ceiling; Bias, p162.) But that, apparently, was how Australian intellectuals felt about Australia from the 30s to the Whitlam era, when the intellectual emigration was said to have reversed, and every few years the same sentiment is annunciated by someone or other --for example,the possibly paranoid & certainly hyperbolic Left-identifying intelligentsia during the Howard years. Periodically, those of British-extraction author the same eruptions of bitterness & nostalgia; European-originating, ditto; Middle-Eastern, Latin-American...
Perhaps migrants expect to find Paradise while the natives expect for it to be created? The migrant country is always under construction and tension between later & existing attitudes describes the country's dynamic. And what is the cultural difference between Australia and the USA in this regard? Is the answer 200 or so years? It's only 40 years, more or less, since the first Asian-American anthologies hit the scene, 20 years since the emergence of the so-called Asian-American first generation writers (denoting "widespread literary recognition"; Victoria Chang, Asian-American Poetry :The Next Generation, Illinois,2004)...
So I continue mulling the "million poets", and the one in a million, Ouyang Yu's works in one hand, the T'ang in the other, Australia all around...

(September 10-12, 2007)

The review of Ouyang Yu I had in mind was actually by Richard King, published in Overland magazine, #179/Winter, 2005, to which the poet responded in Overland, #180/Spring,'05. The short review ran as follows :
"It becomes apparent, reading Ouyang Yu, that not many people return his calls. It also becomes apparent why : he doesnt appear to like his friends. "I'd be so angry", he says at one point, "i'd just dial a familiar number / and hiss into the phone / wordlessly" . And that's not all. Ouyang Yu hopes that, one day, "a wireless telephone gun" will be invented, so he can not only hiss but shoot at you, too.
Ouyang Yu's contempt for humanity (especially Australian humanity) is, in the end, his own affair, and as long as he doesnt make good on the threat that the tone of his poems implicitly makes, I dont supose anyone really cares. As for the quality of Ouyang Yu's poems : suffice it to say, I disliked this book (New & Selected Poems) as much as I felt it disliked me."
Ouyang Yu responded thus :
"I thoroughly enjoyed the Mabel Lee interview by Vin D'Cruz in Overland #179, but was totally unimpressed by the Richard King poetry review, not only because it was presented without offering useful or helpful critical insight, but also because of its unfounded and untrue accusation of my "contempt for humanity". If Richard King has any knowledge of poetry at all, he should know better than to mix the poet-person in the book with the person-pen who wrote it. Unfortunately, his failure to recognize this leads to his dislike for my poetry and to my dislike for his review."
My apologies to Kerry Leves. Please read his correction below which also includes his review of Ouyang Yu's anthology, In Your Face.
--Kris Hemensley, October 18th, 2007

Sunday, September 9, 2007



NO MAN IS AN ISLAND; Thomas Merton (Shambhala, '05), hb, $35-95
COLD WAR LETTERS; Merton (Orbis, '06), [111 letters written between 1961 & 2, around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis] $26-95
John Geiger, NOTHING IS TRUE : EVERYTHING IS PERMITTED : THE LIFE OF BRION GYSIN (Disinformation,'05), hb, $49-95
DYLAN REMEMBERED, volume 1, 1914-1934 (interviews by Colin Edwards; ed by David N. Thomas), (Seren,'03), $45
DYLAN REMEMBERED, volume 2, 1935-1953 (Edwards/Thomas), (Seren,04), $45[Dylan Thomas of course, not Bob!]
KENNETH TYNAN : THEATRE WRITINGS (sel & ed D Shellard; fwd by Tom Stoppard); (Nick Hern Books, '07), hb, $65
KENNETH TYNAN : PROFILES (sel & ed by Kathleen Tynan & E Eban; fwd by Simon Callow); (Nick Hern Books, '07), $49-95
POETS AGAINST THE WAR, ed Sam Hamill with Sally Anderson et al; (Thunders Mouth Press, '03); [selection of the best of the 13,000 poems submitted by 11,000 poets to protest the Iraq war, from Virginia Adair, Julia Alvarez, the Roberts Bly & Creeley to Chaise Twichell, AnneWaldman, CK WIlliams] $24-95
T.S.ELIOT; Craig Raine (Oxford University Press,'06), hb, $55 [in OUP's Lives & Legacies series]
HOWL ON TRIAL : THE BATTLE FOR FREE EXPRESSION, ed Bill Morgan & Nancy J Peters;(City Lights,'06), $32-95 [contains transcript of the court case, the poem Howl, & correspondence surrounding it]



Kevin Gillam, PERMITTED TO FALL (Sunline Press, '07), hb, $30
M T C Cronin, NOTEBOOK OF SIGNS (Shearsman, 07), $24-95
M T C Cronin, OUR LIFE IS A BOX / PRAYERS WITHOUT A GOD (Soi 3,'07), $23-95
Barry Hill, NECESSITY, POEMS 1996-2006 (Soi 3, '07), $25-95
David Prater, WE WILL DISAPPEAR (Soi 3, '07), $21-95
Paul Hardacre, LOVE IN THE PLACE OF RATS (Transit Lounge, '07), $22-95
Ali Alizadeh, EYES IN TIMES OF WAR (Salt,'07), $29-95
FIFTY POEMS OF ATTAR, trsl & analysis by K Avery & Ali Alizadeh (,'07), $25
Justin Clemens / Helen Johnson, BLACK RIVER (,'07), $19-95
Caroline Caddy, ESPERANCE : NEW & SELECTED POEMS (FACP,'07), $24-95
Mike Ladd, TRANSIT (+ CD) (Five Islands Press,'07), $21-95
Kathryn Lomer, TWO KINDS OF SILENCE (UQP,'07), $21-95
Alan Loney, NOWHERE TO GO & OTHER POEMS (Five Islands Press,'07), $21-95
Peter Skrzynecki, OLD / NEW WORLD : NEW & SELECTED POEMS (UQP, '07), $26-95


Lyn Boughton, TINDERBOX (SkecText Press,'04), $10
John Forbes, COLLECTED POEMS (Brandl & Schlesinger,'04), $24-95
John Kinsella, FAST, LOOSE BEGINNINGS : A MEMOIR OF INTOXICATIONS (Melbourne University Press, '06), $27-95 [prose-memoir]

Wednesday, September 5, 2007



Readers of Ray Liversidge's The Barrier Range are in for a merry ride.
Reading the book-poem & the poems in the book over the past month has provided me with a kind of nostalgia for a time in my own literary life, the 1970s, when the poets I spent time with, Robert Kenny, Walter Billeter, John Jenkins, Finola Moorhead, John Anderson, Clive Faust, Bernie O'Regan, others, like Ken Taylor, around the edges, mischievously named the Rushall Crescent Avant-Garde, also disported with history, or the idea of history, in various writing --poetry, prose-fiction...

A small poem such as B is for Burke, from the section, The Aussie Oregon Trail, reminds me of the way poets extract from document those language elements which engage us as poets on the level of very serious play. Thus :

B is for Burke
"Have any of you blokes seen my cup?

(--and can I interject here : "Have any of you blokes seen my cup?" could so easily substitute for the major questions at the heart of the multi-faceted book's expedition--)

"Have any of you blokes seen my cup?
It's white with a black B on it."

(--which immediately throws up another Australian narrative --"white with a black B on it" --but that'll have to be someone else's paper!)

Becker : "No."
Beckler : "No."
Brahe : "No."
Bowman : "No."
Belooch : "No."
Boocha : "Phhhhtt."


Whose cup hasnt got a B on it?!
Recall James McAulay's Terra Australis, the opening verse (before the poem becomes an extension of sentimental description) :

"Voyage within you, on the fabled ocean,
And you will find that Southern Continent,
Quiros' vision -- his hidalgo heart
And mythical Australia, where reside
All things in their imagined counterpart."

Australian poetry has always looked for the cup with B on it!
At the beginning of my reading of the book another B occurred to me --it belongs to Richard Brautigan in The Confederate General from Big Sur, another fantastical play with history or elements thereof, where civil-war guns are lined up & trained upon the advancing enemy and the bullets pierce the dear human flesh and proceed to chip the statues which, in the apparently concurrent future, memorialize this terrible event.
Although Ray Liverside's book contains history it isnt straight --so though it might sit alongside Jordie Albiston's or Susan Kruss's documentaries, e.g., The Barrier Range is something else again.

Here's another B for you --John Barth in his rolicking 17thCentury frolic, The Sot-Weed Factor : "Lest it be objected by a certain stodgy variety of squint-minded antiquarians that he has in this lengthy history played fast & loose(....) the Author here posits in advance(....)we all invent our pasts, more or less, as we go, at the dictates of Whim & Interest; the happenings of former times are a clay in the present moment that, will-we, nill-we, the lot of us must sculpt..."

Preceding The Barrier Range is Ray's first published collection, Obeying the Call. The Barrier Range is a project, a whole book, a novel if you like, whose many headed narrative proceeds in verse & prose more or less cohesively, whereas Obeying the Call is the proverbial slim collection whose thematic segments dont discourage its miscellaneous feel.
The title, however, is a significant lead for the reading of The Barrier Range. (I say the reading and not necessarily the composition, because the order in which books are published doesnt always reflect their chronology.)
In the first book's title poem, the call is found in "a ritual forged / By four generations of men // and borne by every father's son." It's a genetic call --farming, in the detail of the poem, is almost by the by. Forming is what's essential. For Ray Liversidge, this forming, this shaping is all bound up with the will of men. In The Barrier Range, the external journeying leads to nowhere & nothing, no inland sea, no Edenic prosperity --but it bequeaths a language, a psychology, a culture, a myth.
An adjacent poem, in Obeying the Call, actually invokes "Sturt's inland sea" and has a mother figure "defying myth" / "she turns and looks out to sea, desert at her back." As benevolent recipient of male correspondence and, in an incredible sequence in his book, as malevolent counterpoint, she exists, but She is neither the issue nor the tissue of The Barrier Range.
The Barrier Range is where Ray Liversidge will do his duty --the most primitive of all for a male poet --he'll tell the originary story --it will be his story --it will be an originary Australian story --it will be a founding myth --(in this case, Burke & Wills with Sturt's expedition thrown in for good measure)... He will inscribe himself there, a living ghost, a time-traveller. He will situate his family there, especially the uncle to whom the book is dedicated --the uncle of mystery as the poet is the son of history. This history, the poet will contend, is my story --so history & mystery, my-story & his-story, will meld in this poetry, this experimental autobiography, The Barrier Range.


As may be obvious from my accent, I was never a school-child in Australia! I didnt, therefore, grow up with Burke & Wills! But I might be the only person in this room to have stood beside the statue raised in honour of Tom Wills in Totnes, South Devon --a son of Devon who perished on the famous Australian expedition... Bethatasitmay, Ray Liversidge's book is the only history I've read of Burke & Wills --Ray of course --and a quick glance at the bibliography will confirm it --has read everything ever written on Burke & Wills and Sturt & co!
So, what do we have to consider? Poetry & history?
Charles Olson, whose Maximus Poems revolves about the history, backwards & forwards, of Gloucester, Massachusetts, famously said "It is a difficult thing to both poet & historian"... Olson taught his students & fellow poets to begin with what they knew, where they were, to place themselves at the centre of knowledge --of which the poem was an investigation. Of course this human subject was a spiritual & imaginative proposition and not simply the weight of a particular proportion of skin & bones!
But --whoahhhhh! --let me put the brakes on here! --pull this history wagon up to a grinding halt! Burke & Wills & co, Sturt & etc & etc... Yes -- but to quote Little Britain, yes but/no but...
For all the historical documentation --the quotes from Burke & Wills, from Becker & Beckler, from Sturt, from Ernest Giles & so on, for all of that primary material there is another strand of documentation, a parallel text as it were --drawn from the poets & writers, Australian & otherwise --and so impressive is this text that the notion of The Barrier Range as a journey through a literary idea and not only an historical one, begins to grow upon one. Burke & Wills, Becker & all the heroic dramatis personae, are joined, mirrored perhaps, in the world of this book, in the world made by this book, this literary construction. They are joined by an equally heroic company --and I'm happy to call them and to obey their call :
There is Patrick White & Voss, of course;
Gerald Murnane & The Plains --"I've spent my life trying to see my own place as the end of a journey I never made."
There's Ron Simpson;
T.S.Eliot several times, e.g., "the river is within us / the sea is all about us";
John Shaw Neilson, that "Mallarme of the Mallee";
Martin Johnston --and what a line from The Blood Aquarium does Liversidge enroll : "even your compassion stinks of libraries"...
(It's a paradox, which that precocious book-worm knew very well, --do poets really want to pretend that books arent part of the matter they dig daily?)
There's Coleridge's "water, water, everywhere / nor any drop to drink";
Peter Porter courting sun,
Philip Salom courting sky.
There's Howard Nemerov on landscape & language;
Cornelis Vleeskins;
C. J. Dennis;
Ian McBryde courting desert;
and Philip Hodgins from The Dispossessed in a quote that could be both epigraph & epitath,
"The sun was almost sitting on the road
ahead of them, like some apocalypse
they'd soon be coming to";
though it's Eliot, again, who probably takes the laurel :
"we shall not cease from explorations
And the end of our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time"


So, let me try to make something of this structural & thematic juxtaposition...
Ray Liversidge has a family story to tell --he's an ancestral poet, a poet of historical time & place. He is a poet who reads, who is inspired by literature, for whom literature is a fund of ideas as much as it is of imagery. He is a poet on a mission, and I dont want to describe what should keep for your reading as an intriguing & perhaps black sheep mystery, but it is this poet's mission to memorialise the uncle just as his book adds a sheen to Australian myth's existing statuary.
I give you, then, Ray Liversidge's The Barrier Range, wonderfully published by Flat Chat Press through Fee Sievers' excellent eye for unique & deserving poetry projects... I've said nothing of John Olsen & his image for the cover, but that's another tale...
I have great pleasure in declaring this book launched!
[Launching held at the Artery, Fitzroy; Sunday, July 30th, 2006.]

Saturday, September 1, 2007


LAUNCHING SPEECH IN FAVOUR OF TREMORS : NEW & SELECTED POEMS BY ANDREW SANT (published by Black Pepper Press, Melbourne); August 30th, 2004

Andrew asked Kevin [Pearson, of BPP] to ask me to launch his NEW & SELECTED POEMS. . . Sure, it's been a busy week, what with the bookshop [Collected Works], & helping a friend pack up a house & fly to Laos, and then there's the Melbourne Writer's Festival, two events for which I had to prepare... So I felt tentative about accepting... The real reason, of course, was defensive --because I suddenly realised Andrew was getting his own back on this review --published 15 years ago to the month, --in the August,1989 issue of the Australian Book Review --a review of his 3rd collection, Brushing the Dark...
I didnt meet Andrew until recent years --maybe late '90s, certainly before 2001 which is the date of another of our auspicious connections... But it was a Melbourne Writers Festival and our mutual friend, now American friend, Kevin Hart, introduced us. Oh, hello, I said, we havent met but I did review you once! Andrew shook my hand and said yes, you gave me a bollucking! He laughed, I think... I was genuinely surprised --I dont recall it that way, I said. Andrew insisted. I said I thought I was making a discussion or receiving his book into a discussion. If there was an error --I say tonight, with the proverbial benefit of hindsight --it was to treat books as representatives of poetry in general, that is, the Australian poetry being written now vis a vis an idea of poetry, an ambition for poetry... Certainly, the editor who'd asked me to review poetry for ABR in that period, was aware of the discourse I'd probably instigate; that was why she'd appointed me --but it wouldnt have been clear to either the readership or the authors... Ah well... Water under the bridge! But at that same meeting Andrew & I bonded... Humid weather, alcohol, the company of poets, what else would one expect?!
Andrew told me --and I'd only just met him remember --that he knew my brother...
I have two brothers & a sister --and the brother with whom I've shared a life-time love of poetry & small press & so on, Bernard Hemensley, is agoraphobic and never been to Australia...
You must have got him mixed up with someone else, I stammered... You couldnt have met my brother... There arent any other Hemensleys in Australia (which is not quite true)...
Yes I did, Andrew said, Robin, Robin Hemensley!
Robin? I said --but he's never been here either --are you sure?
Yes, he said --he's a red-head, like me, and it wasnt here --it was at a party in Kingston-on-Thames --the girls we were with knew each other!
Anyway, I felt it was incredible --Andrew Sant had met my baby brother! They'd partied together! In Surrey! I've felt we were family ever since --especially when, in 2001 I think it was, Andrew has told me he saw me walking along a street in Dorchester when he was travelling in a coach. I was utterly amazed when he told me! Where will we two meet again?!
So much for frivolity! Now we get serious... Now we have the bollucking!
When Kevin Pearson delivered this New & Selected to me the other day, my first response was "wow! it's big" --my second was "what a great cover, it looks like a thriller, a crime book!"
Kevin said that was an interesting reaction, one which Andrew would probably be tickled by, and for obvious reasons, he said. Perhaps the most obvious reason I've now discovered is one of the longest poems in the book, called "Crime Fiction" --it's in the new poems section of the book, which we'll get to in a minute...
It is a big fat book, and published by a small press... And all one can say (to quote a friend of Andrew's & mine, the little chap on the Guinness ad. some of you may have seen on t.v.) is "Brilliant! Brilliant!"
Small presses dont usually publish 258 page books of poetry --although with proper support they could... Tim Thorne's Cornford Press[Tasmania] published Selwyn Pritchard's Letters & Characters, about 200 pages; Pi O's Collective Effort Press did the monumental 24 Hours and a couple of Jas Duke tomes... But these are honourable exceptions.
I have to confess to a surge of optimism holding this book in the aftermath of the Overload Poetry Festival, pleasantly tired by the Writers' Festival & the poetry events I attended or participated in --a surge of optimism for poetry, for the lives of poets -- and this notwithstanding Barry Hill's "salt versus sugar" admonition on Saturday at the Malthouse, in fact including that spirited (& inspiring) ethical & political discussion of the poetry scene --I feel an optimism that the concentric rings of poetry's various life in the world are turning --things are moving --gently! Readers & writers are enthusiastic! But maybe this is all the fantasy which festival frisson inspires?!

The New & Selected gives everyone the chance of a second bite --the reader & the author --especially if the collection is the author's choice. Readers can then enjoy the variants --and so long as there are libraries, can prefer an earlier version over a later, or vice-versa... But the notion of a New & Selected is an interesting one : it suggests that whether published or not the writing is a work-in-progress --and that the poetry selected for the edition is considered a manuscript, and that the changes are made according to the author's current poetic-linguistic position...
In my 20s & 30s, when friends were publishing their selecteds --several with University of Queensland Press --it struck me that a selected was a kind of premature burial. But I think early 50s is a good age for it --and the additional "new poems" shows there's life yet...
I suppose the Collected is the next rite of passage... When my late friend Frank Prince published his Collected in England & the US in 1993, he told me that was it --here it all was --no more. He was 80, but strong faced, alert, so one didnt think of him as an aged man. Anyway, he sounded just a bit resigned --and I suggested to him that he'd surely "trump" his collected with at least another substantial poem . He didnt think so --but inevitably he did, a poem of a couple of hundred lines on the occasion of Keats' bicentenary...
So, there's always life for the poem! --after a selected and even after a collected!

Proper or not to look for key words, essential motifs, across such a book?
There's a poem, "Wren", from Andrew's first collection, The Caught Sky, p15 here, which seems to me exemplary of Andrew's way of connecting observation or perception to an aspect of representation... It's a beautiful poem, suggestive of its particular subject-matter and, in the same breath or the same mode, of the writerly aspect also. The very first poem of the book performs the same act, but here's "Wren":

"A wren appears on the branch like an asterisk -

I refer back through
memory to a time of more constant
immersion of self in details -
once this would have been complete experience,
the wren offering itself
for my abandonment in detail,
landing on the fuchsia,
shaking the million purple bells
of my delight.
The wren flies off.
I'm left with a footnote of detail
towards an imminent theme."

So, and maybe you're alongside my thinking here, is this the poet's project? --ever apprehending the imminent theme which can only arise from the particularity of detail...

One observes the shorter & longer sequences coursing Andrew's work --especially the last decade or so. They're topographical ("Mt Wellington", "A Vineyard Quartet", "A Shower Medley", "The Sunlight Inland"), autobiographical (maybe "Voyage", "Stories of my Father"), occasionally historical. Perhaps this is the novelist poet's rehearsal, the poet who one day will produce his verse-novel...
And in this book, sequences like "Summertime : A Holiday Chronicle" and "Crime Fiction", which, to quote our friend from the Guinness ad again, are just brilliant!, these definitely augur an Oneigin or Golden Gate or something like it...
"Crime Fiction", of these new poems, is something else. It reminds me of John Tranter's great but short fictions in his book Ultra --the language is canny, it's quick, it's hard --it's like crime fiction whatever the subject... It's very knowing of popular culture, commercial culture, political culture --or it's political (discerning & disarming) of cultures & languages left & right of poetry's.
Let me say something about "Stanzas" (p219)--the first poem and a sequence from the new poems section --it too is brilliant! --a tour de force! The stanzas, isolated as they are --their natural procession broken by the titular number despite their momentum --arouse in me both a technical & a narrative excitement. The poem reminds me of one of Steven Edgar's baroque tales, so meticulously constructed that it might be misapprehended for a bloodless exercise. I appreciate the ingenuity --something ingenious & mellifluous, well-made yet still surprising --like a "but, hey" colloquialism thrown into a line --which breaks the spell of the written text, returns us to or reminds us of the palpable, present-time language...

And now I think it's time to hear some of it from Andrew himself... So, with great pleasure, I declare this book launched!

[Launched at the Purple Turtle pub in Johnston Street, Fitzroy; August 30, 2004.]