Australian Poetry Journal volume 4.1 0 Comments

Australian Poetry Journal volume 4.1

The strength of a poetry collection is often shown in its variety—and this collection, a relaunch with a new editor Michael Sharkey, is as varied as the clouds within its pages.

Modern collections often aren’t able to be quite as versatile, due naturally to having to draw from modern works. Australian Poetry Journal (Volume 4 Issue 1) neatly sidesteps this issue by including insightful essays into past poets and examples from their bodies of work. There are plenty of modern pieces too—such as ‘Followers on Facebook’, and ‘The drive from Springvale’.

APJPoetry can be a capricious thing, and there are the occasional clumsy efforts, but these mostly seem to come about when the work or the writer is self-conscious—obviously trying hard to write a poem, or to be modern enough. The most common example of this is writing about writing. Reflexiveness might appeal to some people, but it seems to lack the creativity that makes the rest of this collection strong.

This is a journal that proves poets are willing and welcome to experiment. Sometimes these take the form of a ‘Contemporary Carmina’ (as from Carmina Figurata, AD 325), or ‘equinox’, a poem that is beautiful read in any of three different ways. There is enough variety here that whichever themes or styles of writing you prefer, there will be silver lines all throughout the pages.

Standouts that make this work more than just a collection are the essays, the reviews and the artwork. Essays like ‘Lose Weight Now, Ask Me How: On Light Verse’ and ‘The mongrel: Australian prose poetry’, have plenty to teach about poetry and its genesis. They do so in an entertaining way, drawing examples from a rich history to make their point. The artwork provides a similar break from the poetry. Occasionally interspersed clouds make gorgeous art out of the typically limited medium of greyscale – like a watercolour made out of newspaper.

A relaunch of founding editor Bronwyn Lea’s tradition, this is a diverse and entertaining journal with a scope that should appeal and challenge audiences in equal measure.

By Rafael

Australian Poetry Journal volume 4.1 is available as one of our current Voiceworks subscriber offers. 

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