The eponymous swimmer in the dust appears at almost the exact midpoint of this delicate and thoughtful collection, providing a startling fulcrum for the arc of these poems. The collection opens with a set of double-glazed windows, blasted by bushfire before they could even be installed, gazing only at “vistas of soil”. The poems move through a series of landscapes, both internal and external, experiencing the elements in a quietly observant, and sometimes poignant, voice. We are eventually led up into the clouds, where we are invited to contemplate what we have learned about ourselves. A wonderful, subtle contribution to Australian poetry.
For me, The Mirror Hurlers (P&W) was one of 2019’s best books of poetry. Ross Gillett’s latest book, Swimmer in the Dust, builds upon this rich legacy—displaying a mastery of tone and tonal drift, of nuance and ambiguity. His capacity to imbue the inanimate with life—and believably so—often astonishes. Gillett is a poet (should I say, a philosopher-poet?), possessed of a receptivity, an openness to difference; and the possessor of extraordinary emotional intelligence. Ross Gillett’s poetic vision continues to grow.
John A Scott
Whether Ross Gillett considers his memories of youth, the impact of a storm overhead, the intertwining of myth and personal passion, or the materials of poetic language, he writes poems of wit, emotional sincerity, and intellectual probity.
Professor Richard Perry
“Gillett’s spare but loaded descriptions leave it to the reader to imagine the conflagration , the sense of loss and waste…by comparison, other poems can be deceptively simple…Gillett uses land and seascapes to convey levels of meaning and receptivity far beyond the literal, and deepen our understanding of the forces that move us.”
MARGARET BRADSTOCK, Rochford Street Review