Puncher & Wattmann
The Old Humanists
by John Carey
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courting on a verandah under a sulphurous moon
with her father all ears in the bathroom
stropping his razor to the rhythm
of the creaking love-seat...
- from 'Snapshots of Olive'
"John Carey's poems are a refreshing experience. They're deceptively effortless in wrapping mature, humane values in a sophisticated array of supple verse forms. Carey is adept at verbal whizzbangery, and not just in his surrealist lyrics like 'The Shed at the Back Revisited' and the brilliantly titled 'Oulipic Games' section. Splendid turns of phrase and startling images stand in this collection of meditations, graceful tributes, celebrations, narratives, life-stories and acerbic satires. Carey's delight in allusion and word-play veils insights into bleak contemporary social and cultural conditions, in fables like 'The Village of Protected Witnesses', 'The Suspect', and 'Motivation', where humour, as in an old-time Soviet joke, belies ugly political truth. Whether remarking on the sweep of history or meditation on the varieties of ways in which love and suffering are made manifest, Carey's tact is evident. This is a collection for connoisseur's of contemporary Australian poetry." — Michael Sharkey
John Carey is an ex-teacher of French and Latin. His previous collection is Sorting Through Wardrobes, 2004.