Towards the Equator: New & Selected Poems

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Shortlisted for the 2015 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards for Poetry

This New & Selected Poems is a substantial and long-awaited compilation from one of Australia’s most accomplished poets, a retrospective spanning more than thirty years. The New Poems section, ‘Towards the Equator’, represents Alex Skovron’s sixth book-length collection and signals a return to the formal variety that has been a hallmark of his work. As always, a distinct Eurocentric sensibility sits alongside an engagement with Western art and culture. All six collections are characterized by close attention to craft, versatility of tone and technique, and a seriousness of intent seasoned at times with wry humour or playful wit. We encounter a rich assortment of voices, moods and scenarios as the landscapes of experience, the playgrounds of the mind and the theatres of the self are negotiated. Music, memory, philosophy, the creative spirit and language itself are focal-points; the dimensions of faith and the elusive quest for self-knowledge colour the shifting light; while Eros, in various guises, accompanies many of the poems across the plains and borderlands of the imagination. Recurring motifs in Skovron’s poetry include the perpetual tussle with history, the search for a clarity of vision, and our often ambiguous relationship with identity, with each other, and with the enigmas of time and remembrance.


“Over the whole collection, Skovron’s work is sensate and highly finessed. He sets up alliances between beauty and strangeness, seriousness and humour, the narrative and the lyric, the forces of history and the quotidian. His poetic and syntactical structures are often complex, but his use of music and the balancing and positioning of thoughts over the lines disencumber any heaviness that might result. His broad range of material, from the historical and speculative, to the conceptual and personal, has authority and flair, the way his poems yield their many perceptions and positions so keenly, and with such virtuosity, is immensely impressive.” JUDITH BEVERIDGE, Sydney Review of Books

“…all his poetry urbanely values the articulate and the clarified; the complex and the made. It asserts the importance of recognising human contradictions and problems while appreciating civilisation. For Skovron, words are so much part of being and doing that the world is unimaginable without them – and music is always there as an abiding and ineffable ‘mysterious song’.” PAUL HETHERINGTON, Australian Book Review (paywalled)

“Perhaps what is most interesting about Skovron, to me, is how easily he moves between poems embedded in history and the sacred to poems of the everyday. It is hard to think of another poet who can occupy the mystical realm…as readily as the mundane world.” CATILIN MALING, Cordite Poetry Review

“The value of such a generous selection as this is that it allows a reader, especially one new to the poet’s earlier works, to get a sense of what has gone on over the years. Skovron has been remarkably consistent in output – a book every five years or so – and in his concerns and style. This is not to say his work lacks variety; quite the reverse, but the way of thinking and feeling is always distinctive.” PETER KENEALLY, The Sydney Morning Herald

“[These poems] show a leisurely but steady development of a highly intelligent poet who has always been looking for new (but not meretricious) ways to write, a poet who takes his art seriously as a way of understanding the world and communicating to readers what he can of the awareness so gained.” GEOFF PAGE, The Australian

“Though never a poet of the easy answer or swaggering insight, Skovron’s poetry does constitute, among many other things, a search for wisdom – a search which engages many different poetic forms and voices, which finds expression in a superb array of subtly-differentiated emotional states, and in strikingly diverse cultural registers, from ‘difficult’ erudition to an instantly-intelligible phrase like ‘larrikin breeze’” RICHARD FREADMAN, Australian Poetry Journal