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