Puncher & Wattmann
by Greg McLaren
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Australian ravens is a book of mourning, celebration, family, misgiving, lies and caution. The three long poems in this book, ‘Broken’, ‘Not being in Kyoto’ and ‘The Blue Gum’, each extend the questioning of memory, place and the past that featured in McLaren’s first collection, The Kurri Kurri Book of the Dead. Australian ravens reaches deeply into place, making it up, trying to forget it, remembering and misremembering in equal measure, finding…
… the family’s stories already
falling into a wash of silence between the sea and the lake,
drifting loose from their speech,
a receding and beckoning shoreline.
“There is a finely disciplined craft evident in these poems, giving the reader the sense that every word and line has been carefully weighed and matured through unhurried, placid reflection. There is nothing restricted or hidebound in this: McLaren controls his material perfectly. McLaren’s poems are loaded with the past and animated by the attempt to understand and recover it. For the speaker in McLaren’s poems, access to the figures and events of the past has become uncertain and treacherous, and nothing anymore is sure or definite.”
—Nick Riemer on The Kurri Kurri Book of the Dead, Jacket, 36.