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Brandis mistakes taxpayer money for personal slush fund

Gustav Puncher 19 June 2015

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The Yarts minister's raid on the Australia Council may satisfy two Liberal groups - traditionalists who like glitzy opening nights, opera and ballet, and philistines who'd like to see the end of the Australia Council. Brandis wants to be seen as the great provider – but only to large, established companies that perform traditional and historically-endorsed works. This is a model of deadly conservatism.

On not knowing

Bonny Cassidy 19 February 2014

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On not knowing

In December I responded to remarks by Fairfax book critic Andrew Riemer concerning Lionel G Fogarty’s poem in the Best Australian Poems 2013 (Black Inc, ed. Lisa Gorton). As I pointed out, it seemed unbelievable that Riemer selected Fogarty’s work as an example of what he saw as “in the strictest sense of the term, meaningless” poetry contained in the anthology. 

Future tense: speculation and magic in recent Australian poetry

Bonny Cassidy 12 January 2014

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Last year, around the release of Lisa Gorton’s Hotel Hyperion, it occurred to me that a speculative tradition had quietly become established within recent Australian poetry.

In the last few years, poets including Gorton (specifically in the titular sequence of Hotel Hyperion), A Frances Johnson (The Wind-up Birdman of Moorabool Street), Lisa Jacobson (The Sunlit Zone) and Michael Brennan (Autoethnographic) have constructed lyric scenarios based on speculations about technological, industrial and biological progress.

How Soon is Now?

Bonny Cassidy 24 December 2013

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How soon is now?

Published in last Saturday's Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, Andrew Riemer’s review of The Best Australian Poems 2013 is a blink-and-miss-it generalisation about the way language is locally shaped.

Firstly, I must declare that I am one of the poets represented in the anthology. I don’t wish to review Riemer’s review; but it seems impossible to point out its critical shortcomings without doing so. A cropped and functional summary of the Black Inc Best Australian series of 2013, his review is about all that could be expected from the bizarre editorial decision to address three anthologies in one go. The unfortunate product, however, is an unexamined statement about poetry here and now.

Riemer’s main point is that the anthology’s “poems are isolated utterances, remote, in a way, from notions of literary or poetic traditions.” While he carefully explains that this is an observation rather than a tacit criticism, Riemer rehearses a tired view of the abstraction of language: apart from an aging, male generation of lyric poets, we are amidst a “zeitgeist” of linguistic play in which “few seek to disclose an individual perspective on the world”. It’s not that Riemer is wrong in his observation of “isolated utterance”— just forty years late. It makes you feel as if the National Gallery of Australia had only just bought Blue Poles.

Poetry with strangers

Bonny Cassidy 19 December 2013

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In the cramped back room of the bar, a group of about thirty people appear to be quietly sitting on one another’s laps. Though I’ve never seen their faces at other poetry events, I will be seeing most of them again, every week for the next five weeks.

The Thick ... and Thin of it

Philip Salom 21 November 2013

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Narrowness (and Breadth)

There can never be any agreed-upon set of standards or values in the wide-ranging and contested poetics at any particular time. Of course not. Consensus is not even desirable. But narrowness of reading, reviewing and especially judging, is a significant worry. What this indicates, reduced to the worry, is a widespread inability, or unwillingness, or both, in the readiness and capacity to read and assess with any broad sense of justice.

Thick Markets for Poets

Philip Salom 24 October 2013

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Competitions are for horses, not artists
- Bela Bartok
Following from my last blog post are the further questions of sincerity as a poetics of craft: the accuracy of detail and the acuity of poetry as it works on us line by line, the strike and rest of imagery in relation to form, its assertions, its moods ... And especially if these greet us without us having to keep noticing the (apparent) self-satisfaction or manipulation of the poet, unless that is of course in a strong way intentional. Or feels intentional.

Being serious about sincerity

Philip Salom 11 October 2013

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I don't meant mere seriousness, which might be common to both great and very poor writing. I mean a deep sincerity of intent, and practice, some core values. Serious is OK. Maybe without that dreaded earnestness, which can be off-putting (see later paras). So, not automatically serious. A sincere writer might be a complete piss-taker, a lyric comedian, a seemingly flippant, satirical, even mocking poet. Or even exaggeratedly melodramatic.

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