The poems in the anthology, we believe, make for pleasurable and thoughtful reading. They are meditative and dramatic, celebratory and regretful, loving and elegiac, take place in the country, the city and suburbs, were written by both women and men – we have made no attempt to count the ratio – and by both well-known poets and emerging voices. Whatever we think, the poems remain resolutely themselves, and await your interpretation; they certainly offer a reader’s engagement.
Entries were drawn from over Australia but the poems’ settings were not necessarily Australian at all: the poems reflect an internationalised word of travel and immigration. One notable feature is the absence of a declarative Australianness or modernity; the resurgence of nationalism is a feature – an often disturbing one – of contemporary politics but it did not appear in the poems. Perhaps good poetry requires a deeper empathy. Also, there was almost no evidence of the self-conscious Modernism or Post-modernism apparent in much Australian poetry from the 1960s to at least the end of the twentieth century. While some poems are experimental, for example in spacing across the page, there has been so much experiment in English language poetry in the twentieth century that it now seems hard for any practice to seem deeply avant-garde. Poetic technique has largely settled down; in the poems submitted there was little extravagant diction and little philosophical sense that words cannot map reality, except in satirising those who think that way. This is valuable in any attempt to again diffuse an appreciation of poetry amongst a general public that has long lost the habit of reading it.
Dennis Haskell and Rose van Son (selectors)
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