The Shearsman Review

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Laurie Duggan

Laurie Duggan reviews Gregory O'Brien

Sometimes the poetics of the new avant seem all too pure. Commentators might shudder at the idea of a poet being taken on a scientific voyage in order to furnish reports even if these were presented in a language other than that of standard journalism. The results of such an exercise might be a little too hybrid for those who want the work to reflect only the principles of its own construction. But what if poetry happened to be ‘occasional’ of its nature. I don’t mean here the ‘occasion’ of a greeting card but the thought that a poem might be addressed to someone or to a group of people. Coleridge, I’m sure, would not have minded a commission in the least though he may have given his paymasters a deal of grief. Gregory O’Brien has been on at least a couple of investigatory voyages, employed as a poet (as well as an artist and art critic). In Whale Years his journey is very much one of the imagination rather than a journalistic exercise.

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Date: 26 November 2015

Michael Farrell - Open Sesame

The first thing you notice about the poems in Open Sesame is a colloquial familiarity. At the same time the poems are often dense and use an unstable grammar. In some of them there’s a distinctive parlance going on: not just Australian but regional and possibly generational (I mean here the adult generation around the time of Farrell’s country childhood). Farrell is an agile performer. You feel there’s a language being created here and yet it’s your own language.

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Date: 16 March 2014

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