Attention Span 2012 | Pam Brown
Ken Bolton | Selected Poems | Shearsman | 2012
Another extensive selection of the indefatigable, inimitable Ken Bolton’s poems from 1975 to 2010. This book is veritably fecund with diverse ideas and references—from Howlin’ Wolf to Jackson Pollock, Braque, Renoir, to patterns on a Tampon packet to Errol Flynn to Fairfield Porter to Robert Mitchum—inventive notations, appreciation of relationship—both friendship and family—and plenty of terrific jokes.Nobody else in Australia writes like Ken Bolton. He is a singular (unique) poet who knows that poetry is an important critical form as well as a means of doing some of the work of philosophy. Includes the famous sestina, ‘Bunny Melody’, about a greyhound dog race—aesthetically terrific.
Ken Bolton, ed. | Kurt Brereton: More Is Plenty | Jellied Tongues | 2012
A monograph covering the art career of Australian artist Kurt Brereton from 1973 to 2011. The book spans photography, painting, sculpture, animation, film, performance, poetry and writing. It also includes biography and an exhibition chronology. Plus an interactive graphic artwork—handmade. There are extensive essays on Brereton’s lyrical-critical art practise by Ken Bolton, George Alexander, Arnie Goldman, Diana Wood-Conroy and others. Hundreds of graphics. (Hard copies sold out—now available on lulu dot com as an e-book)
Laurie Duggan | The Pursuit of Happiness | Shearsman | 2012
The Pursuit of Happiness collects shorter poems written during and after the composition of Laurie Duggan’s last book Crab & Winkle (Shearsman, 2009) poems engaging with his move from Australia to the U.K. in 2006. The collection concludes with ‘The Nathan Papers’, an earlier and longer work written in Australia. The poems address the state of the art and the state of the nation, investigating the spaces left for pleasure in this new dark age. As anthropological investigations, they shift from Robert Creeley, burgers and South African wine on Charing Cross Road to images of Santa Claus in Anglo-Greek Paphos and Japanese tourist signs in the Brontë country. These are wonderful notational poems from Laurie Duggan’s various strayings to diverse places. Tony Baker’s blurb: ‘Duggan’s poetry has the virtue too that it never “abandons the local”. Like Paul Blackburn . . . he builds his work out of what he finds in, on or about the premises.’
Kate Fagan | First Light | Giramondo | 2012
Here is a genial relational aesthetic compiling reanimated centos for friends from expert samplings, plus a musical correspondence and other sonic moments. Kate Fagan is a musician and a poet. She quotes Nina Iskrenko directly—’…the world tumbles and is caught / In consciousness a blazing future is predicted’. In this blazing future my reading remix registers and savours First Light‘s quietly warped syntax—’must a sentence stop and settle / I bend to drafts and read each tablet / a memory made haphazard in a high storm’–that is to say many of the phrase flashes in these poems are electrifying.
Kim Hyesoon, trans. Don Mee Choi | All The Garbage of The World Unite | Action | 2012
‘The ghosts always gripegripe / The women who met an undeserved death are the noisiest among them.’—ghosts who gripegripe, dripdrip and pukepuke, and holes—’Goodness, I didn’t know there were such repulsive holes!’ Holes are everywhere, all kinds of holes—in the early 1950’s the U.S. pounded Korea with bombs and napalm leaving literal, emotional, psychological and societal holes everywhere as Kim Hyesoon’s powerful poem ‘Manhole Humanity’ reminds us. This feminist, somatic, startling, vivid poetry is with loaded with shifting, playful, surreal linguistics. ‘meme is a lone tree that got planted in a bed’.
Kim Hyesoon, trans. Don Mee Choi | Princess Abandoned | TinFish | 2012
Excerpts from To Write as a Woman: Lover, Patient, Poet, and You (published in Seoul in 2002)—three essays that connect contemporary women’s writing and a Korean shaman narrative called ‘Princess Abandoned’ or ‘the abandoned woman writes the abandoned woman’. Published in the inexpensive TinFish Retro chapbook series.
Daniel Levin Becker | Many Subtle Channels: in praise of potential literature | Harvard | 2012
Half a century of OuLiPo recounted by the most recently anointed oulipian. A totally readable anecdotal book detailing the lives of the members of this amazingly inventive experimental ‘workshop’ and their technically constrained writings. Daniel Levin Becker includes OuLiPo offshoots both older and recent, like the work collected by Christine Wertheim and Matias Viegener in the Les Figues Press compendium The noulipian Analects in2005.
Michele Leggott | Northland | Pania | 2010
Five poems in a gorgeous, limited-edition chapbook. Michele Leggott’s note: ‘Nobody knows for sure who brought the first rose to Northland but chances are it came with the westerlies that blew everything else from Port Jackson (Sydney) to the Bay of Islands in the early 1800s’. As I read these engrossing poems, I researched the unfamiliar plant and place names, historical events and Maori language in the online reference Te Ara: The Encyclopaedia of New Zealand. The poems cover a variety of topics involving the region including Maori land rights, botany and everything a rose might represent. ‘Once there we found ourselves footstepping other travellers’—Auckland poet Leigh Davis who frequently visited one of the Bays and met an early death in 2009, the poet Robin Hyde, a prophet (TW Ratana), Richard Taylor, a C19th missionary and natural historian and others. Michele Leggott again follows her dictum from the earlier book Mirabile Dictu—’something strange happens every day / sometimes up close, sometimes further away. / if you can’t see the whole story in one place, / you may find it in another.’
Kate Lilley | Ladylike | Western Australia | 2012
The blurb I wrote for the back cover says ‘Kate Lilley’s trim poems linger in thresholds between the material world and otherworlds of slippage and undersound. Women and girls—strumpet, slattern, coquette, rubbermaid, princess—wayward, proclaimed, scandalous, diminished, wronged —are recovered and redeemed. In the dolour of grief, mother and daughter coalesce imperceptibly and mourning is immense. Ladylike loves language literarily. Kate Lilley is a mistress of adverbs and discrepancies. She adroitly melds the seventeenth century with the nineteenth and the twentieth, with its cinema classics and Freudian psychosexual dreams and neuroses, into the televisual synthetics of the twenty-first. These poems are compelling and exquisite.’
Alistair Noon | Earth Records | Nine Arches | 2012
Formal without being formalist, this first collection from Berlin-based English poet Alistair Noon begins with the title poems ‘Earth Records’—a sequence of forty classic sonnets keeping a record ofworld memory, religion, politics, disasters, iconsand sometimes listening to records—’the music of the west thuds through the speakers / trade winds taking its noise, spreading it wide‘ and, a metaphoric sonnet begins ‘An endless machine moulds the acetate / we listen to, scoring earth as it blasts / the uncooperative hills’. Alistair Noon’s poems are urbane and complex. His is a European view often favouring quatrains for explication. A freer form section, ‘Holidays of the Poets’, follows, mimics, pays homage to and sometimes parodies a variety of ‘greats’—Gilgamesh in London , Homer in New York, Catullus in Berlin, Basho in Scotland ( a poetic prose piece), Coleridge in Beijing, Yeats in Macedonia and more. Lovely modernism for the twenty-first century.
Pete Spence | Perrier Fever | Grand Parade Poets | 2011
The word ‘exuberant’ is used twice on the book’s back cover and these poems are. Pete Spence’s poetry has been described variously as surrealist, naïve, outsider, but although these descriptions nudge elements of his poetry it is not really any of them. Pete Spence is a well read, well informed absurdist who is fluent in modernist poetry and lightly sidles up to it in his own poems. He knows how poets directly perceive and the poems appear to have been written effortlessly, an effect that’s actually quite difficult to achieve. They can seem naïve or like deliberate art brut, but the references are literary, traditional even. These poems are actually very well-behaved. Pete Spence has an obvious, compulsive interest in language and can turn what he hears and reads into profoundly clear and surprising poems.
Pam Brown recently edited Fifty-one contemporary poets from Australia for ‘Jacket2’ where she is an associate editor. She has published many books including Dear Deliria (Salt, 2002), True Thoughts (Salt, 2008), Authentic Local (SOI3 Modern Poets, 2010) and, more recently, a pocket book of ten poems, Anyworld (Flying Island, 2012) and a booklet More than a feuilleton (Little Esther Books, 2012). A longer collection of poems, Home by Dark, will be published by Shearsman Books in the U.K. in 2013. Pam lives in Alexandria, Sydney and blogs intermittently at the deletions.