Recent books from Martin Langford have addressed specific themes: Ground explored the evolution of Australian spaces, while Eardrum focused on music. The Boy from the War Veterans’ Home, however, represents a return to the miscellaneous sources from which collections are normally compiled. The title poem is about the difficult life of his father, but other pieces have been prompted by material as various as air dancers, hagfish and midges. Overall, however the collection is still pervaded by Langford’s characteristic concerns: dismay at the ubiquity of triumphalist narratives – not least in our art-forms – and at the fragility of the spaces in which the subject is invited to step beyond them – together with an abiding fascination with the earth’s brilliance and indifference. As well as the main body of poems, there are sections on the ambiguous bounty of story, on the writing life, and on the natural world – and a further supplement of Minims, his brief poems about music.
One of the few contemporary Australian poets who can write with ease and conviction in the borderlands where poetry and philosophy enhance each other. . . There is no Australian poet more dedicated to his craft. . .
– Jan Owen