Example poetry

Nervous about reading poetry? This book will put you on the right track

Another example of the breadth of Holland-Batt’s tastes and knowledge is the understanding she shows of the very different work of Stephen Edgar and Pi O, which she wrote about in successive weeks. Edgar is the pre-eminent formalist of the country (if not of the language); Pi O is Fitzroy’s ethnic anarchist. Their distinct merits are certainly different but also very real, and Holland-Batt has no trouble presenting and sampling each other’s work in a suitably sympathetic and persuasive manner.

Another dimension of the book’s scope is Holland-Batt’s discussion of the many formal characteristics of poetry. These range from the obligatory sonnet, the ode, the villanelle, the sestina, the elegy, etc. to less predictable and sometimes controversial aspects such as the “readymade” (or “found poem”), the anagrams, the ekphrasis, the prose poem and many others. . The author seems equally at ease with all and aptly quotes the American poet Dana Gioia saying, from free verse and formal verse, that “only the uninformed or the biased may fail to recognize that true poetry can be created in both ways”.

It’s also worth noting that many such books (including a few by this reviewer) begin with the poem in question, followed by the essay discussing it. Holland-Batt begins with the essay which provides contextual commentary on the book in general, commentary on the chosen poem, before finally printing the poem itself (often found by turning the page). It may sound counter-intuitive, but it works well. lightning fishing is essential for anyone interested in contemporary Australian poetry at any level. And isn’t it all of us?

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