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Anthologies and the visibility of the poem

Martin Langford 4 March 2017

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One of the impulses behind putting the anthology together was the sense that it was becoming increasingly difficult for good poetry to become visible. Some of the problems are well-known, and don’t need much re-statement. Australia is a big country: it can be difficult enough to establish a readership in one’s immediate networks, but almost impossible to do so beyond them. Even if one’s networks have some capacity to move across regions (as, for instance, in tertiary education) the distribution of the book still seems to suffer – even in this internet age – from geographical  constraints. Outside of a small number of stores in the biggest cities, very few shops stock good poetry lists. So: you have your launch, you mount a Facebook campaign which soon becomes tiring, and you obtain a small number of reviews in the limited number of paper-  and e-journals that have reviewers willing to write them. Then what? If it’s published in Adelaide, how do people in Brisbane or Perth get to hear about it? – particularly if they miss the reviews? The regional constraints are compounded by the brevity of its visibility: if potentially interested readers don’t hear about the book in the year or so after publication, it is unlikely they ever will.

What might an anthology of the future look like?

Martin Langford 1 March 2017

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What might an anthology of the future look like? What do changes in the nature of the space the poem is written for imply about the poem itself?

Thinking about the nature of the space the poem is both written, and read in, I was wondering what the editors of an anthology like ours might have to deal with in the future. There are obvious problems for anthologists associated with the changing nature of society: a more populous society, for instance, should mean even more poets to research: I can’t imagine how that is going to be managed, if the number of books published continues to increase, in the same way that it had increased for us in comparison to the previous quarter-century (and how, on that point, could one ever put together a credibly-researched American anthology?) But there is also the issue of the space the poem is written into…

Poetry and the Anxieties of the Narrative

Martin Langford 16 February 2017

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One way of thinking of the material of the poem – and I’m being a little idiosyncratic here, so I don’t want to accuse the other editors of holding these opinions – is that it is what you have when you look around at the end of a story. A story – particularly, but not solely, the migratory narratives of contemporary life – begins with an anxiety, and follows that anxiety towards an ending by which it is resolved…

Free Verse in 2017

Martin Langford 1 February 2017

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One feature of the period covered by the anthology – easy to overlook, it’s so obvious – is the quality of the free verse it contains. It isn’t the only type of poetry in the anthology, and even for those who used it, not everyone wished to explore all its capabilities, some preferring to focus only on aspects of it necessary for their particular style. There is, however, a great deal of very skilful free verse on show, and it is difficult to read contemporary Australian poetry (or the poetry of other Western-sourced traditions) without feeling that free verse has become the predominant mode of poetic expression.

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