Leaves of Glass is based on correspondence between Walt Whitman (1819–1892) and Bernard O’Dowd (1866–1953). The letters, more than twenty of which have now been found, were written between 1899 and 1892. At that time, Whitman was at the end of his life and his career, and O’Dowd (whose first collection, Dawnward, would not be published until 1903) was a young legal librarian who wore a blade of grass in his lapel as a tribute to Whitman.
“Leaves of Glass assembles the shards of a lost and broken correspondence into a jagged lens, and examines imagination and sympathy. Wild, sharp and witty, these poems find their languages in the gaps between letters and the silences between words, and build a radiant, vital and eloquent collection.”
“However one approaches this wonderfully original and sophisticated book, it is Prater’s masterful, often unpredictable use of rhythm and expression, and his effortless fusion of humour with melancholy and lyricism with idiosyncrasy, which mark him not only as an insightful student of culture and history but also as one of the foremost Australian poets of his generation.”