In the Spirit of Rumi (2011)

Jack Ross:
Published Essays, Interviews,
Introductions & Reviews



Date of Publication - Title - Publication Details

    2016 [3]

  1. (July 8) "On the Road to Nowhere: Revisiting Samuel Butler’s Erewhon." Extraordinary Anywhere: Essays on Place from Aotearoa New Zealand. Ed. Ingrid Horrocks & Cherie Lacey. Wellington: Victoria University Press, 2016. 135-49.

  2. (May 19) “The Psychopathic God: Review of R.H.I., by Tim Corballis (Victoria University Press, 2015).” Landfall 231 (April 2015): 182-85.

  3. (May 5) “I am ‘modern’ but want to go back’: Review of Aurelia, by John Hawke (Cordite Press, 2015).” TEXT: Journal of Writing and Writing Courses, vol 20, no. 1 (April 2016).

  4. 2015 [19]

  5. (December 11) “Poetry Shelf, Poet's Choice.” Contribution to Paula Green. NZ Poetry Shelf: a poetry page with reviews, interviews, and other things (11/12/15).

  6. (November 27) (Ed.) Poetry NZ Yearbook 2 [Issue #50] (2015): 7-10, 23-38, 255-63 & 269-73:
    • Editorial – What is New Zealand Poetry?
    • An Interview with Robert Sullivan
    • Reviews:
    • Review of Mary Cresswell, Fish Stories (Christchurch: Canterbury University Press, 2015)
    • Review of David Eggleton, The Conch Trumpet (Dunedin: Otago University Press, 2015)
    • Review of A Place To Go On From: The Collected Poems of Iain Lonie, ed. David Howard (Dunedin: Otago University Press, 2015)
    • Review of Jane Summer, Erebus (Little Rock, Arkansas: Sibling Rivalry Press, 2014)
    • Books & Magazines in brief:
    • Review of Diane Brown, Taking My Mother to the Opera (Dunedin: Otago University Press, 2015)
    • Review of Catalyst 11: My Republic, ed. Doc Drumheller (Christchurch: The Republic of Oma Rāpeti Press, 2014.)
    • Review of Martin Edmond & Maggie Hall, Histories of the Future (North Hobart, Tasmania: Walleah Press, 2015)
    • Review of JAAM 32: Shorelines, ed. Sue Wootton (Wellington: JAAM Collective, 2014)
    • Review of Julie Leibrich, A Little Book of Sonnets (Wellington: Steele Roberts Aotearoa, 2013)
    • Review of Emma Neale, Tender Machines (Dunedin: Otago University Press, 2015)
    • Review of Richard Reeve, Generation Kitchen (Dunedin: Otago University Press, 2015)
    • Review of Pat White, Fracking & Hawk (Aotearoa New Zealand: Frontiers Press, 2015)

  7. (August 29) “'We' Society: Editor's Note.” 'We' Society Poetry Anthology. Edited with a Preface by Jack Ross. Stage2Page Titles, 4 (Bethells / Te Henga, Auckland: Poetry/Spoken Word Art NZ Trust, 2015): 1-3.

  8. (July 29) Blurb for Martin Edmond & Maggie Hall, Histories of the Future (North Hobart, Tasmania: Walleah Press, 2015).

  9. (May 11) “Miss Herbert, by Adam Thirlwell [2007].” Verbivoracious Festschrift Vol. 3: The Syllabus. Ed. G.N. Forester and M.J. Nicholls. ISBN 978-981-09-3593-1 (Singapore: Verbivoracious Press, 2015): 209-10.

  10. (May 1) “Is MiStory YourStory? Review of MiStory, by Philip Temple (Dunedin: Scribe Publishing, 2014).” Landfall Review Online (2015).

  11. 2014 [36]

  12. (November 1) “An Interview with Gabriel White.” Tongdo Fantasia. Gabriel White on Vimeo (26/10/14).

  13. (October 28) (Ed.) Poetry NZ Yearbook 1 [Issue #49] (2014): 7-10, 41-48, 224-37:
    • Editorial – From Dagmara to Lisa
    • An Interview with Lisa Samuels
    • Books & Magazines in brief:
    • Review of Alan Brunton, Beyond the Ohlala Mountains: Poems 1968-2002. Ed. Michele Leggott & Martin Edmond (Auckland: Titus Books, 2013)
    • Review of Kay McKenzie Cooke, Born to a Red-Headed Woman (Dunedin: Otago University Press, 2014)
    • Review of Craig Cotter, After Lunch with Frank O’Hara. Introduction by Felice Picano (New York: Chelsea Station Editions, 2014)
    • Review of Alison Denham, Raspberry Money (Christchurch: Sudden Valley Press, 2013)
    • Review of Doc Drumheller, 10 x (10 + -10) = 0: A ten year, ten book project, 20/02/2002-21/02/2012 (Christchurch: The Republic of Oma Rāpeti Press, 2014)
    • Review of Eugene Dubnov, The Thousand-Year Minutes. Translated by Anne Stevenson & the author (UK: Shoestring Press, 2013)
    • Review of Sue Fitchett, On the Wing (Wellington: Steele Roberts Aotearoa, 2014)
    • Review of Alexandra Fraser, Conversation by Owl-Light (Wellington: Steele Roberts Aotearoa, 2014)
    • Review of John Gibb, The Thin Boy & Other Poems (Lyttelton: Cold Hub Press, 2014)
    • Review of Rogelio Guedea, Si no te hubieras ido / If only you hadn’t gone. With translations by Roger Hickin. Introduction by Vincent O’Sullivan (Lyttelton: Cold Hub Press, 2014)
    • Review of Sweeping the Courtyard: The Selected Poems of Michael Harlow (Lyttelton: Cold Hub Press, 2014)
    • Review of Michael Harlow, Heart absolutely I can. Hoopla Series (Wellington: Mākaro Press, 2014)
    • Review of Chloe Honum, The Tulip-Flame (Cleveland, Ohio: Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2014)
    • Review of David Howard, The Speak House: A Poem in Fifty-Seven Pentastichs on the Final Hours in the Life of Robert Louis Stevenson (Lyttelton: Cold Hub Press, 2014)
    • Review of Leonard Lambert, Remnants: Poems (Wellington: Steele Roberts Aotearoa, 2013)
    • Review of Stephanie Lash, Bird murder. Hoopla Series (Wellington: Mākaro Press, 2014)
    • Review of Cilla McQueen (in association with the Alexander Turnbull Library), Edwin’s Egg & Other Poetic Novellas (Dunedin: Otago University Press, 2014)
    • Review of John O’Connor, Whistling in the Dark (Wellington: HeadworX, 2014)
    • Review of Outloud Too. Ed. Vaughan Rapatahana, Kate Rogers, Madeleine Slavick (Hong Kong: MCCM Creations, 2014)
    • Review of Lee Posna, Arboretum (Auckland: Compound Press, 2014)
    • Review of Helen Rickerby, Cinema. Hoopla Series (Wellington: Mākaro Press, 2014)
    • Review of Marie Slaight, The Antigone Poems. Drawings by Terrence Tasker (Potts Point NSW: Altaire Production and Publication, 2013)
    • Review of Elizabeth Smither, Ruby Duby Du (Lyttelton: Cold Hub Press, 2014)
    • Review of MaryJane Thomson, Fallen Grace (Wellington: HeadworX / The Night Press, 2014)
    • Review of Steven Toussaint, Fiddlehead (Auckland: Compound Press, 2014)

  14. (August 5) “August on the Shelf.” Contribution to Paula Green. NZ Poetry Shelf: a poetry page with reviews, interviews, and other things (5/8/14).

  15. (May 16) “Green Movement: Review of Phillip Mann, The Disestablishment of Paradise: A Novel in Five Parts plus Documents (London: Gollancz, 2013).” Landfall 227 – Vital Signs (2014): 183-85.

  16. (April 14) “Paul Celan & Leicester Kyle: The Zone & the Plateau.” Ka Mate Ka Ora 13 (2014): 54-71.

  17. (March 12) (Ed.) brief 50 – the projects issue (2014): 3-5, 152-53, 154-56:
    • Editorial – Misha's Project
    • Review of Lisa Samuels, Wild Dialectics (Bristol: Shearsman Books Ltd., 2012)
    • Review of Richard von Sturmer, Book of Equanimity Verses (Auckland: Puriri Press, 2013)

  18. (February 6) Leicester Kyle. The Millerton Sequences. Edited by Jack Ross. Poem by David Howard. ISBN 978-0-473-18880-1. Pokeno, Auckland: Atuanui Press, 2014. 8-29:

  19. (February 1) “Carnage in Cuba Street: Review of The Wind City, by Summer Wigmore (Steam Press, 2013).” Landfall Review Online (2014).

  20. 2013 [6]

  21. (December 9) “Here are the poetry books that hooked us in 2013.” Contribution to Paula Green. NZ Poetry Shelf: a poetry page with reviews, interviews, and other things (9/12/13).

  22. (September 27) “Confessions of an Unrepentant Anthologist: Review of The AUP Anthology of NZ Literature, ed. Jane Stafford & Mark Williams (Auckland: AUP, 2013).” brief 49 (2013): 129-45.

  23. (September 7) “Wearing their ethics on their sleeves: Review of Elizabeth Knox, Mortal Fire (Wellington: Gecko Press, 2013) & Mandy Hager, Dear Vincent (Auckland: Random House New Zealand, 2013).” NZ Books: A Quarterly Review vol. 23, no. 3, issue 103 (Spring 2013): 16-17.

  24. (August 31) “Trouble in River City: How I learned to stop worrying and trust poetics.” Poetry NZ 47 (2013): 93-103.

  25. (June 25) “Obituary – Dreamtigers: i.m. Sarah Broom.” Poetry Notes 14 (vol. 4, issue 2). ISSN 1179-7681 (Winter 2013): 6-8.

  26. (May 14) “Never Get Taken to the Second Location: Review of The Second Location. Stories by Bronwyn Lloyd (Auckland: Titus Books, 2011). RRP $NZ 30.00.” Landfall 225 – My Auckland (2013): 186-89.

  27. 2012 [25]

  28. (November 23) “Interpreting Paul Celan.” brief 46 – The Survival Issue (2012): 85-101.

  29. (November 5) Celanie: Poems & Drawings after Paul Celan. Poems by Jack Ross, Drawings by Emma Smith, with an Afterword by Bronwyn Lloyd. ISBN 978-0-473-22484-4. Pania Samplers, 3. Auckland: Pania Press, 2012. 168 pp. 11-16:

  30. (September 24) “Channeling Paul Celan.” Rabbit 5: The RARE Issue (Winter 2012): 118-31.

  31. (September 1) “Review of The Little Enemy, by Nicholas Reid (Wellington: Steele Roberts Aotearoa, 2011).” Poetry NZ 45 (2012): 103-4.

  32. (July 1) “Closedown, hibernate, restart: Review of The Comforter, by Helen Lehndorf (Seraph Press, 2011) & Birds of Clay, by Aleksandra Lane (VUP, 2012).” Landfall Review Online (2012).

  33. (June 19) Fallen Empire: Maui in the Underworld, Kupe & the Fountain of Youth, Hatupatu & the Nile-monster: Three Play-Fragments from the Literary Remains of The Society of Inner Light. Attributed to Bertolt Wegener. Edited with an introduction by Jack Ross. Museum of True History in Collaboration with Karl Chitham and Jack Ross (20 June – 21 July 2012). Dunedin: Blue Oyster Art Project Space, 2012:

  34. (May 8) “Old Shore.” Trout 17: Home Spaces (2012).

  35. (May 6) brief 44 / 45 – Oceania (2012): 56-76 & 206-7:

  36. (March 31-July 3) JACK ROSS: Notes on NZ Poetry (April-June 2012). Jacket2: Commentaries.
    1. [31/3/12]: Begin anywhere
    2. [6/4/12]: The persistence of memory
    3. [13/4/12]: Experiments with sound
    4. [18/4/12]: Dancing on ropes with fetter’d legs
    5. [27/4/12]: In small press land
    6. [6/5/12]: State-of-the-Nation poems: Allen Curnow
    7. [11/5/12]: State-of-the-Nation poems (2): James K. Baxter
    8. [17/5/12]: State-of-the-Nation poems (3): Cilla McQueen
    9. [26/5/12]: Work yet for the living: Hone Tuwhare
    10. [1/6/12]: What's in the mags? brief 44/45
    11. [8/6/12]: State-of-the-Nation poems (4): Ian Wedde
    12. [15/6/12]: State-of-the-Nation poems (5): Kendrick Smithyman
    13. [25/6/12]: State-of-the-Nation poems (6): Michele Leggott
    14. [3/7/12]: Coda

  37. (March 30) “Marie de France: ‘Laüstic’ (c.1180).” Ka Mate Ka Ora 11 (2012): 75-88.

  38. (March 13) “The book that got me started ...” Contribution to Celebrating NZ Book Month. Auckland University Press (13/3/12).

  39. 2011 [7]

  40. ((November 29) “Look and look again: Twelve New Zealand poets.” Jacket2 NZ Poetry Feature: with poets John Adams, Raewyn Alexander, Jen Crawford, Scott Hamilton, Leicester Kyle, Aleksandra Lane, Thérèse Lloyd, Richard Reeve, Michael Steven, Apirana Taylor, Richard Taylor, Richard von Sturmer. Edited by Jack Ross. Images by Emma Smith.

  41. (November 3) Leicester Kyle, Koroneho: Joyful News Out Of The New Found World. Edited with an Introduction by Jack Ross. Preface by Ian St George. ISBN 978-0-9876604-0-4. Auckland: The Leicester Kyle Literary Estate / Wellington: The Colenso Society, 2011. 7-9:

  42. (November 1) Blurb for Keith Westwater, Tongues of Ash (Brisbane: Interactive Press, October 2011).

  43. (August 25) “Foreword.” Lugosi’s Children, Curated by Bronwyn Lloyd (27 August – 1 October 2011). Auckland: Objectspace, 2011: 2-3. [PDF available at:].

  44. (May 25) “Johnsons or Shits: Review of Mike Johnson, Travesty (Auckland: Titus Books, 2010).” brief 42 (2011): 40-44.

  45. (May 17) “Questions of Structure: Review of John Newton, Lives of the Poets; Cilla McQueen, The Radio Room; David Eggleton, Time of the Icebergs.” Landfall 221 – Outside In (2011): 184-87.

  46. (January 6) Kendrick Smithyman, Campana to Montale: Versions from Italian. 2004. Edited by Jack Ross & Marco Sonzogni. ISBN-13: 978-88-7536-264-5. Transference Series. Ed. Erminia Passannanti. Novi Ligure: Edizioni Joker, 2010. 23-39:
    • Essay – The Poem Within: Kendrick Smithyman the Poet-Translator

  47. 2010 [6]

  48. (December 16) 11 Views of Auckland. Edited by Jack Ross & Grant Duncan. Preface by Jack Ross. Social and Cultural Studies, 10. ISSN 1175-7132. Auckland: Massey University, 2010. ii + 210 pp. [100 copies]. 5-8; 155-76:

  49. (November 19) “Hearts on the Run: Poetry Panels in Sydney.” All Together Now: A Digital Bridge for Auckland and Sydney / Kia Kotahi Rā: He Arawhata Ipurangi mō Tamaki Makau Rau me Poihākena (March-September 2010). (23/11/10).

  50. (November 18) “A Short History of Fairytales.” One Brown Box: A Storybook Exhibition for Children, by Bronwyn Lloyd & Karl Chitham (6 November – 18 December 2010). ISBN-13: 978-0-9582811-8-8. Auckland: Objectspace, 2010: 27-37.

  51. (September 17) “Discussion of 'Disorder and Early Sorrow'.” In 99 Ways into NZ Poetry, by Paula Green & Harry Ricketts. ISBN 978-1-86979-178-0. Auckland: Random House, 2010. 364-65.

  52. (May 27) “The Sleep of Reason: Review of Jessica Le Bas, Walking to Africa; David Lyndon Brown, Skin Hunger; Bernadette Hall, The Lustre Jug; Kevin Ireland, Table Talk: New Poems; Frankie McMillan, Dressing for the Cannibals; Brian Turner, Just This: Poems; Richard von Sturmer, On the Eve of Never Departing.” Landfall 219 – On Music (2010): 185-89.

  53. 2009 [14]

  54. (December 7) “Scroll, Codex, Hypertext …” Contribution to the Flying Blind Symposium (3/12/09). Floating Cinemas Website (7/12/09).

  55. (November 3) “Troubling Our Sleep: Ted Jenner’s Postmodern Classicism.” Ka Mate Ka Ora 8 (2009): 46-66.

  56. (September 25) “Travelling to the Edge of Oneself: Review of Martin Edmond, The Supply Party.” brief 38 (2009): 89-93.

  57. (June 16) “The Tolkien Industry.” Scoop Review of Books (16/6/09).

  58. (May 29) “Is there a future for the poetry blog?” Colloquium: “1,000 words or a picture: Could Poetry be a Contemporary Art?” Ka Mate Ka Ora 7 (2009): 26-29.

  59. (May 6) “In Love with the Chinese Novel: A Voyage around the Hung Lou Meng.” brief 37 (2009): 10-28. [Available at: Titus Books website (June 15, 2010)].

  60. (March 1) (Ed.) Poetry NZ 38 (2009): 9, 10 & 107-8.:
    • Editorial [Available at: Poetry NZ Website (12/3/09)]
    • Jen Crawford
    • Books & Magazines in brief: Review of Coral Atkinson & David Gregory, ed. Land very Fertile: Banks Peninsula in Poetry & Prose (Christchurch: CUP, 2008)
    • Review of Stu Bagby, ed. Just Another Fantastic Anthology: Auckland in Poetry (Auckland: Antediluvian Press, 2008)
    • Review of Helen Bascand, into the vanishing point (Wellington: Steele Roberts, 2007)
    • Review of Michael Harlow, The Tram Conductor’s Blue Cap (Auckland: AUP, 2009)
    • Review of John O’Connor, Parts of the Moon: Selected Haiku & Senryu, 1988-2007 (Teneriffe, Queensland: Post Pressed, 2007)
    • Review of Takahe 64 (Winter 2008)

  61. 2008 [5]

  62. (September 23) “Climbing off the Barricades: Review of Tony Beyer, Dream Boat: Selected Poems & Stu Bagby, ed. A Good Handful: Great NZ Poems about Sex." brief #36 (2008) – The NZ Music Issue: 114-18.

  63. (August 30) “Ex Africa semper aliquid novi ... Review of Alistair Paterson, Africa: //Kabbo, Mantis and the Porcupine’s Daughter.” Poetry NZ 37 (2008): 101-08.

  64. (July 30) Review of Martin Edmond, The Evolution of Mirrors. Queensland: Otoliths, 2008. Lulu Marketplace.

  65. (June 15) “Recipe: Hot rolls.” In The Word for Food: Recipes and Anecdotes from members of the International Writers’ Workshop, and others. Ed. Joyce Irving. Palmerston North: Heritage Press Ltd., 2008. 98-99.

  66. (June 6) New New Zealand Poets in Performance. Edited by Jack Ross. Poems Selected by Jack Ross and Jan Kemp. ISBN 978 1 86940 4093. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2008. xiv + 146 pp. ix-xii:

  67. 2007 [7]

  68. (November 13) (Ed.) Landfall 214 – Open House (2007): 5-6, 175-79 & 187-90:

  69. (September 1) “Irony and After: New Bearings in NZ Poetry.” Poetry NZ 35 (2007): 95-103.

  70. (June 6) To Terezín. Travelogue by Jack Ross, with an Afterword by Martin Edmond. Social and Cultural Studies, 8. ISSN 1175-7132 (Auckland: Massey University, 2007). ii + 90 pp. 5-6:

  71. (March 29) “Pound’s Fascist Cantos Revisited.” Ka Mate Ka Ora #3 (2007): 41-57.
    • (September) "Correspondence: Pound’s Italian Cantos." Ka Mate Ka Ora #4 (2007): 154-57.

  72. 2006 [9]

  73. (December 13) “Gabriel’s Groundhog Day: Launch speech for Gabriel White's Aucklantis.” Window Online (13/12/06).

  74. (December 6) “for Leicester Hugo Kyle (b. 1937).” brief #34 (2006) – war: 6-11. [Available at:].

  75. (September 9) “Death of the Old Gang: Review of Sarah Broom, Contemporary British and Irish Poetry.” Poetry NZ 33 (2006): 80 & 96-101. [Available at: The Imaginary Museum (12/9/06)].

  76. (August 30) Myth of the 21st Century: An Anthology of New Fiction. Edited by Tina Shaw & Jack Ross. ISBN 0-7900-1098-4. 137 pp. Auckland: Reed Publishing (NZ) Ltd, 2006. 7-9:

  77. (May 12) Classic New Zealand Poets in Performance. Edited by Jack Ross. Poems selected by Jack Ross and Jan Kemp. ISBN 1-86940-367-3. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2006. xiv + 146 pp. ix-xi:

  78. (March 24) brief #33 (2006) – exile and home: 35-37, 60-62, 106-8:

  79. (March 4) “In the Shop of Wah Lee: Denys Trussell – poet, musician, ecologist.” Poetry NZ 32 (2006): 85-94.

  80. 2005 [12]

  81. (October 22) “Is Melville's poetry really worth reading? (22/10/05).

  82. (October 3) (Ed.) Where Will Massey Take You? Life Writing 2. ISBN 0-473-09551-3. Massey University: School of Social and Cultural Studies, 2005. viii + 155 pp. [100 copies]. v-vi:

  83. (August 19) “A few thoughts on sampling.” Titus Books website (19/8/05).

  84. (July 18) (Ed.) brief 32 – Joanna Margaret Paul (2005): 3-4, 103-7:
    • Editorial – i.m. Joanna Margaret Paul (1946-2003)
    • Review of The Brian Bell Reader
    • Review of Alan Brunton, Grooves of Glory: Three Performance Texts
    • Review of Sue Fitchett, Palaver Lava Queen
    • Review of Michael Harlow, Cassandra’s Daughter
    • Review of Anne Kennedy, The Time of the Giants
    • Review of Michele Leggott, Milk & Honey
    • Review of C. K. Stead, The Red Tram

  85. (July 2) “Review of ‘Asclepius’. Poet Triumphant: The Life and Writings of R. A. K. Mason (1905-1971) & Lawrence Jones. Picking up the Traces: The Making of a New Zealand Literary Culture 12932-1945.” WLWE: World Literature Written in English 40 (2) (2005): 144-47.

  86. 2004 [27]

  87. (December 2) “Takahe 2004 Poetry Competition Report.” Takahe 53 (2004): 2.

  88. (November 30) (Ed.) brief 30 / 31 – Kunst / Kultur (2004): 3-4, 88-91, 109-11, 115 / 3 & 5-6:
    • EditorialWARUM die KUNST
    • Review of Murray Edmond, Fool Moon
    • Review of Basim Furat, Here and There
    • Review of Harvey McQueen, Recessional
    • Review of Guyon Neutze, Dark out of Darkness
    • Review of Mark Pirie, Bullet Poems: In Four Rounds, ed. “Recent New Zealand Poetry: 50 Poems by 50 Poets,” & ed. Tupelo Hotel: Winter Readings at Tupelo
    • Review of Niel Wright, Only a Bullet will stop me now
    • Review of William Direen, Jules
    • Editorialbrief goes political

  89. (November 21) Magazine 2 (2004) [aroha, love, l’amour]: 7-18, 86-87:

  90. (October 18) Kendrick Smithyman. Campana to Montale: Versions from Italian. Edited by Jack Ross. ISBN 0-476-00382-2. [ii] + 190 pp. Auckland: The Writers Group, 2004. 10-17:

  91. (September 28) “Going West Five Years On.” Pander Online. [Available at: (28/9/04)].

  92. (September 17) Golden Weather: North Shore Writers Past and Present. Poems edited by Jack Ross / Prose edited by Graeme Lay. ISBN 0-908561-96-2. 244 pp. Auckland: Cape Catley, 2004. 12-16:

  93. (August 31) “Review of James McNeish, Dance of the Peacocks: New Zealanders in Exile in the Time of Hitler and Mao Tse-Tung & Vincent O’Sullivan, Long Journey to the Border: a Life of John Mulgan.” WLWE: World Literature Written in English 39 (2) (2004): 143-46.

  94. (July 12) “'I dreamed your book was written ...' Review of Young Knowledge: the Poems of Robin Hyde, ed. Michele Leggott.” JNZL: Journal of New Zealand Literature 22 (2004): 180-90.

  95. (April 2) (Ed.) brief 29 – more fun than you’ve ever seen (2004): 3-4, 23, 62-65, 81-84, 87-88:
    • Editorial – The Secrets behind my Smile
    • Review of Paul Hardacre, The Year Nothing
    • Review of David Howard & Fiona Pardington, How to Occupy Our Selves
    • Review of Anne Kennedy, Sing-Song
    • Review of Graham Lindsay, Lazy Wind Poems
    • Review of John O’Connor & Eric Mould, Working Voices
    • Review of Alistair Paterson, Summer on the Côte d’Azur
    • Review of Mark Pirie, Dumber
    • Review of John Pule, Tagata Kapakiloi: Restless People
    • Review of R. A. K. Mason, Four Short Stories & Maurice Duggan, A Voice for the Minotaur

  96. 2003 [20]

  97. (November 14) “Review of Jill Chan, The Smell of Oranges.” Magazine 1 (2003) [loaded with arts, fire and boodle]: 76.

  98. (October 28) (Ed.) brief 28 – Alan Brunton (2003): 3-4, 116-22:

  99. (July 10) (Ed.) brief 27 – Season of the Remakes (2003): 3-4, 98, 99-100:
    • Editorial
    • Review of Leicester Kyle, Five Anzac Liturgies
    • Review of Sugu Pillay, The Chandrasekhar Limit

  100. (May 7) “Review of Kendrick Smithyman, Imperial Vistas Family Fictions.” JAAM 19 (2003): 246-49.

  101. (April 22) “Smithyman / Quasimodo: Introduction to the Translations of Kendrick Smithyman.” Glottis: New Writing 8 (2003): 91-96.

  102. (April 16) (Ed.) Spin 45 (2003): 3, 59-63:
    • Editorial
    • Review of dreu harrison, dreaming of flight
    • Review of Michal Ma’u, Taste of Fiji
    • Review of Mark Pirie, Swing and Other Stories
    • Review of Sarah Quigley, Love in a Bookshop or Your Money Back
    • Review of Bill Sewell, The Ballad of Fifty-One

  103. (February 26) (Ed.) A brief index: A breakdown by issue & author of 7 years / 26 issues of brief, the magazine formerly known as: A Brief Description of the Whole World / ABDOTWW / description / ABdotWW / Ab.ww / brief. &c., December 1995 – January 2003. ISSN 1175-9313. 48 pp. Auckland: The Writers Group, 2003. 3:

  104. (February 25) (Ed.) brief 26 – Smithymania (2003): 3-4, 5-8, 9, 19-50, 56, 92, 103-09, 115-116:

  105. 2002 [16]

  106. (December 6) “Alan Brunton, my publisher.” New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre (6/12/02).

  107. (October 7) (Ed.) brief 25 – trains at a glance (2002): 3-6, 13-16:

  108. (September 17) “What is Auckland Poetry?Five Bells vol. 9 (3) (2002): 14-15.

  109. (August 29) Poetry NZ 25 (2002): 100-06:

  110. (July 12) (Ed.) brief 24 – less formal than bull (2002): 3, 41-44, 78-79:

  111. (March 25) (Ed.) Spin 42 (2002): 3-4, 60-63:
    • Editorial
    • Review of Jeanne Bernhardt, The Snow Poems / Your Self of Lost Ground
    • Review of T. Anders Carson, A Different Shred of Skin
    • Review of Leicester Kyle, The Great Buller Coal Plateaux: A Sequence of Poems
    • Review of Mark Pirie, Reading the Will
    • Review of Wensley Willcox, A Woman in Green
    • Review of Helen Rickerby, Abstract Internal Furniture

  112. 2001 [20]

  113. (December) “Alan Loney / John O’Connor / John Geraets.” brief 22 (2001): 63-73.

  114. (November 17) Review of Shebang: Collected Poems 1980-2000 by David Howard. JAAM 16 (2001): 171-75.

  115. (October 30) “Imaginary Toads in Real Gardens: Poets in Christchurch.” In Complete with Instructions. Edited by David Howard. ISBN 0-473-07646-2. Christchurch: Firebrand, 2001. 33-61:

  116. (September 4) “Translating Poetry.” Poetry NZ 23 (2001): 125-34.

  117. (July 5) “Case Studies.” brief 20 (2001): 23-29.

  118. (March 21) (Ed.) Spin 39 (2001): 3, 64-66:
    • Editorial
    • Review of All Together Now: A Celebration of New Zealand Culture by 100 Poets, ed. Tony Chad
    • Review of T. Anders Carson, Stain
    • Review of John Geraets, ? X
    • Review of David Howard, Shebang: Collected Poems 1980-2000
    • Review of Leicester Kyle, Five Anzac Liturgies

  119. 2000 [12]

  120. (November 13) Review of Laminations by Murray Edmond and Charts & Soundings by Sue Fitchett & Jane Zusters. JAAM 14 (2000): 99-103.

  121. (September 30) “An Inside Narrative: Recent Works by Alan Loney.” A Brief Description of the Whole World 17 (2000): 70-79.

  122. (September 2) “Necessary Oppositions? Avant-garde versus Traditional Poetry in New Zealand.” Poetry NZ 21 (2000): 80-83.

  123. (August 26-September 1) Review of Big Smoke, ed. Alan Brunton, Murray Edmond, and Michele Leggott. New Zealand Listener vol. 175 (3146) (2000): 40-41.

  124. (March 27) Review of As far as I can see, by Michele Leggott. JAAM 13 (2000): 158-60.

  125. (March 14) (Ed.) Spin 36 (2000): 3-4, 61-63:
    • Editorial
    • Review of Here After: Living with Bereavement, ed. Stu Bagby
    • Review of Jeffrey Paparoa Holman: Flood Damage
    • Review of Leicester Kyle: A Safe House for a Man
    • Review of When The Sea Goes Mad at Night, ed. Theresia Marshall
    • Review of Tongue in Your Ear 4 (1999)

  126. (February 13) “Jack.” In Here After. Living with Bereavement: Personal Experiences and Poetry. Edited by Stu Bagby. ISBN 0-473-06399-9. 9 Daphne Harden Lane, Albany, Auckland: Antediluvian Press, 2000. 35-40.

  127. 1999 [23]

  128. (October 16) (Co-ed.) The Pander 9 (1999): 14-16, 18-19, 39, 39-40, 40-41, 43:
    • A Brief Description of the Whole World: From Multiple Angles [with Hamish Dewe, John Geraets, Leicester Kyle & Richard Taylor]
    • Theatre: Review of Foreskin’s Lament, by Greg McGee
    • Review of Salt, by Elisabeth Easther
    • Books: Review of AUP New Poets 1, by Raewyn Alexander, Anna Jackson & Sarah Quigley
    • Review of Rapunzel Rapunzel, by Janet Charman

  129. (October 13) “A Conversation with Mike Minehan.” Monthly Profile Series 1. Zoetropes: New Zealand Literature / Nga Pukapuka o Aotearoa online. [Available at: (13/10/99)].

  130. (July 14) (Co-ed.) The Pander 8 (1999): 32, 34, 35-36, 38-39, 39, 40:
    • Books: Review of Hone Tuwhare: A Biography, by Janet Hunt & My Life as A Miracle, by The Wizard
    • Review of A Particular Context, by John O’Connor
    • Review of on what is not, by Kenneth Fea & Legend of the Cool Secret, by Graham Lindsay
    • Theatre: Review of The Royal NZ Ballet’s Shell Season of Peter Pan
    • Auckland Theatre Company’s Culture of Desire: Review of Closer, by Patrick Marber
    • Review of The Cripple of Inishmaan, by Martin MacDonagh

  131. (May) Salt 6 (2) (1999): 8, 12 & 16 & 61 & 65:

  132. (May) “Kendrick Smithyman in Italian.” Landfall 197 (1999): 70-73.

  133. (April) “Review of Going West Literary Festival.” Pander online edition 6/7 (1999).

  134. (March 30) (Co-ed.) The Pander 6/7 (1999): 21 & 23, 41-43 & 34-35, 53-54:

  135. (March 18) (Ed.) Spin 33 (1999): 2, 58-59, 63:

  136. 1998 [14]

  137. (October 18) “It’s Standing Room Only for the Rekindling of Live Lines.” Sunday Star-Times (18/10/98): F4.

  138. (September) (Co-ed.) The Pander 5 (1998): 26-27, 32-33 & 34-35:
    • Kathy Goes to Mexico: In Memoriam Kathy Acker, d. 30/11/97
    • Exhibition: Review of Ralph Hotere: Out the Black Window
    • Film: Review of Guy Maddin: Waiting for Twilight & Tranceformer: A portrait of Lars von Trier

  139. (August) Salt 6 (1998): 24-26, 27-36:

  140. (August 2) “A Mutual Respect: Ralph Hotere and Hone Tuwhare.” Sunday Star-Times (2/8/98): F7.

  141. (June) (Co-ed.) The Pander 4 (1998): 10, 14 & 16:
    • Film: Review of Titanic
    • Review of Fairy Tale: A True Story
    • Books: Review of As It Is, by John O’Connor, Pools over Stone, by Helen Jacobs & Always Arriving, by David Gregory
    • Exhibitions: Review of Orientalism

  142. (March) (Co-ed.) The Pander 3 (1998): 20-22:

  143. 1997 [3]

  144. (August)“Kendrick Smithyman’s Northland.” The Pander 1 (1997): x-xiii.

  145. (July 12) “Genji Monogatari is the first psychological novel.” (12/7/97).

  146. (May) Ezra Pound’s Fascist Cantos (72 & 73) together with Rimbaud’s “Poets at Seven Years Old.” Trans. Jack Ross. Auckland: Perdrix Press, 1997. [ii] + 42 pp. 37-46:

  147. 1993 [1]

  148. (February) “Cunninghame Graham’s Brazil: Differing Interpretations of the Canudos Campaign, 1896-97.” Australasian Victorian Studies Association: Conference Papers 1993. Ed. Joanne Wilkes. Auckland: University Press, 1993. 27-38.

  149. 1992 [2]

  150. (December) “Wilson Harris, Joseph Conrad, and the South American ‘Quest’ Novel.” Landfall: A New Zealand Quarterly 184 (1992): 455-68.

  151. (March) Review of Singer in a Songless Land: A Life of Edward Tregear, 1846-1931, by K. R. Howe, & The Verse of Edward Tregear, ed. K. R. Howe. Landfall: A New Zealand Quarterly 181 (1992): 122-25.

  152. 1989 [1]

  153. (August) Review of Tell Me Lies About Vietnam: Cultural Battles for the Meaning of the War, ed. Alf Louvre and Jeffrey Walsh. Inter-Arts: A Quarterly Journal of Cultural Connections 9 (1989): 31.

  154. 1988 [2]

  155. (October) Inter-Arts: A Quarterly Journal of Cultural Connections 7 (1988): 14-16, 27:

  156. 1987 [1]

  157. (July) Review of The North American Sketches of R. B. Cunninghame Graham, ed. John Walker. University of Edinburgh Journal 33 (1987): 54.


The Psychopathic God (2016)

Landfall 231 (Autumn 2016)

The Psychopathic God

Tim Corballis. R.H.I. ISBN 978-086473-982-7. Wellington: Victoria University Press, 2015. 208 pp. RRP $NZ 30.00.

Tim Corballis: R.H.I. (2015)

It reminded me of the idea of a language game that the philosopher Wittgenstein used to talk about, not really meaning that language games were things that happened but that language is like a game, and that we play games with who we are and with our language, not real games but that it’s all make believe, even if it’s not. (pp.22-23)
In many ways it’s easier to say what Tim Corballis’s new book isn’t than what it is. It certainly doesn’t constitute a conventional novel, even by the most liberal definition. Nor, really, do its two discrete sections operate as independent (or even co-dependent) novellas. They’re much stranger and more fragmentary than that.

The author claims to detect in his own work “a history of the twentieth century,” – albeit an “incomplete” one, “produced by accident” – but working out precisely what he means by that is almost as complex as trying to make sense of the stories themselves (if they really are stories, sustained pieces of make believe, that is).
Having started I had to carry on. Doing what? … I had to admit that I was here mostly for a warm place to sit.
How true that is of so much research, particularly in those strange repositories of obsolete intellectual endeavour called archives. Corballis has clearly caught the archival bug with a vengeance, but the larger significance of the bits and pieces of information he unearthed in Berlin and London, and (later) back home in New Zealand, seems mostly to have emerged in retrospect.

There’s a revealing remark near the beginning of the second novella, “H”:
Did the sense of a PRESENCE simply grow out of my research? It should be clear that I absolutely do not believe in ghosts, or in any kind of special paranormal sensitivity on my part—these documents are the products of an ordinary person, and at times seem like simple diaries, at others like works of fiction, and at others still like the rough notes of a historian or biographer.
I share Corballis’s fascination with the early history of the psychoanalytical movement, and the curious texture of his prose – the almost Janet-and-John-like simplicity of alternating questions and answers – does have the effect of recreating something of the rather uncanny atmosphere surrounding these pioneers in the unmapped regions of the unconscious.

It’s hard, then, to believe that he means this disavowal of the reality of the “floating agents” (as he calls them: though he also refers to them as “ghosts”) to be taken entirely at face value. The idea that a too-vehement negation of any proposition is a clue that its author secretly suspects the opposite is one of the most familiar truisms in the Freudian lexicon, and it’s probably also the one that operates best as a rule of thumb in everyday life.

I take with a considerable grain of salt our author’s claim to be “an ordinary person”. I don’t think we would bother with these notes if they were purely the product of random gleanings in the archives. A considerable amount of shaping intelligence has been devoted to these twin stories, or assemblages, or collages, or whatever you want to call them.

Part One, “R,” about Joan R (or Joan Riviere) and her various experiences before and after the First World War, is probably the more approachable of the two. The territory it investigates is familiar enough from such works as Pat Barker’s Regeneration, or (to go back a bit further) D. M. Thomas’s The White Hotel.

Naming these precedents does have the effect of isolating some of the oddness in Corballis’s method, however. The tales these two earlier authors tell are still, recognisably, novels: fictional recreations of the past – the compositions of true believers in the value of make-believe.

It’s hard to believe that Corballis is simply failing to carry out a similarly seamless act of retrieval and reconstruction. It seems far more probable to me that these roughnesses and jump-cuts and refusals to round off his narrative strands are due to a loss of faith in what Lallans poet Hugh MacDiarmid once referred to as “the haill clanjamfrie”.

And, if one accepts this hypothesis, the structure of his book begins at once to make more sense. Part Two, “H,” about the German architect Hermann Henselmann, takes us straight into the aftermath of another war, amid the ruins of post-war Berlin.

After the proclamation of the death of God by Nietzsche in the 1880s (whether you attribute the act itself to him, to Darwinism, or to Scientific Method itself), the two principal belief systems which have dominated the modern age are undoubtedly Marxism, the idea of history as a shaping force, interpreted by its own priesthood the Communist Party; and Psychoanalysis, the study of the unconscious, the shaping force behind the seemingly irrational and inexplicable acts that dominate human lives.

Joan R’s failed analysis with Ernest Jones, Freud’s biographer, and his first English disciple, dramatises her own conflict with the absolute faith required of adherents to the psychoanalytic cause (studded, like most dogmatic systems, with great heresies and expulsions from the pure stream of belief: Adler, Jung, Otto Rank …).

One of the most amusing strands in Hermann H’s story is his own series of on-again, off-again attempts to flee to West Berlin. He talks his girlfriend, Anita R, into coming with him, only to be swayed into staying by her counter-arguments, only to find that she’s now decided to go, leading him to decide to accompany her, only to find that she’s now been persuaded by his own misgivings to stay, and so on and so forth, the whole accompanied by ironic interpolations by Bertolt Brecht.

Faith, once again, is at the root of it all. As H makes his little compromises, deciding to go along with the purging of a colleague, to accept the (considerable) leg-up it offers him, we observe first hand his attempts to keep alive the flame of the new Utopia that might rise from these ruins: the architectural solution it might offer to the problem of man’s inhumanity to man.

There’s nothing here (except by implication) about the Stasi, no attempt to dramatise – as in Gunter Grass’s The Plebeians Rehearse the Uprising – the irony of Brecht’s staging a play about proletarian revolt while the workers are literally fighting and dying in the streets outside his theatre. This is not that sort of story.

It’s hard, at times, to avoid a snort of contemptuous disbelief as the characters in Corballis’s story attribute the continuing disunity of Germany to the West’s callous refusal to accept Stalin’s grand proposal for re-unification. And yet that very scepticism is, I suppose, the point.

There’s nothing easier than to write po-faced books of “warnings from the past” like Martin Amis’s Koba the Dread. Harder, much harder, is to recreate that atmosphere of the true (albeit, at times, wavering) believer. Corballlis’s virtue is his refusal to editorialise, to put facts in their “true perspective”, to supply the party line on what we now “know” to be true.

What he’s created is, I suppose, a kind of anti-narrative: not so much a Freudian case-study, in which the details are all eventually supposed to cohere into a larger reading, or even a Marxist analysis of the economic and class relationships of the various “floating agents” whom we are forced by narrative convention (perhaps F. R. Leavis might provide a third member of his trinity, to set beside Freud and Marx) to regard as fictional “characters.”

Psychoanalysis took its emphasis from the devastation of the First World War. What was, before, an intellectual movement confined to the analysis of the neuroses of certain wealthy members of the middle classes in Mitteleuropa spread to England and America largely as an antidote to the shell-shock and despair of the lost generation.

The inability of psychoanalysts to diagnose Europe’s ills sufficiently to prevent yet another war, did rather put paid to that particular system of faith: What huge imago made / A psychopathic god, as W. H. Auden presciently asks in his poem “September 1, 1939”.

Marxism is treated in a rather more allusive way in Corballlis’s second section: partly, I suppose, due to its far greater longevity (“A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of Communism” is a statement that dates back to the Communist Manifesto of 1848). Also, perhaps, because it needs less fleshing out – and refutation – for contemporary readers.

Corballis’s book, then, part fiction, part history, part archival research, part imaginative projection is (at any rate in this reading) an attempt to analyse all these losses of faith: faith in ideologies that probably never deserved it in the first place, but which nevertheless started off as attempts to taxonomise and interpret the realities around us, only to end up as codified sets of dogmas, valuable only as control mechanisms for the masses.

It’s hard, too, to argue too vigorously with Corballis’s loss of faith in fiction itself. What is left, after all, of all those Leavisite claims about the English Department as the “natural centre of a university” – of the function of literature to promote alert, enquring minds within healthy, organic communities? Little enough, I fear.

“By their fruits ye shall know them,” says the Gospel of Matthew, of Jesus’s followers. I’m afraid that Gibbon’s Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire put paid to any naïve notions we might have that the warring communities of the early church showed any greater charity to one another than was meted out to them by Emperors such as Commodus or Domitian.

“Great Marxist Humanitarians” – that was one of Kingsley Amis’s suggestions for world’s shortest book. I guess one could add "The Tolerance of Dissent within the Psychoanalytic Movement" and "Lives of the Saintly Literature Professors" as alternative candidates.

But even if these systems of faith now seem less compelling than absurd, what is one left with once they’re gone? The pen may still be moving across the paper in Corballis’s increasingly bleak and Beckettian universe, but one can’t help but wonder for how long?

And yet, is his dilemma so very different from that of Matthew Arnold in “Dover Beach”?
The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.
Corballis has reminded us just how dark and inhospitable those “naked shingles of the world” can be, but also how fascinating and various. There’s always been something a bit unconvincing about the resolution of Arnold’s poem: “Ah, love, let us be true / To one another.” The despair in his poem speaks louder.

Corballis, a hundred years on, may have more ruins to survey, but his solution – to delve and to taxonomise – remains, I have to admit, the best we have.


Landfall 231 (2016): 182-85.

[1844 wds]


The skeleton of a kitten killed by frost (2016)

TEXT: Journal of Writing and Writing Courses

I am ‘modern’ but want to go back

John Hawke. Aurelia. Introduction by Gig Ryan. ISBN 978-0-9942596-1-5. Melbourne: Cordite Books, 2015. xiv + 43 pp. RRP $AU20.00.

Cover design: Zoë Sadokierski (2015)

An arresting image, “The skeleton of a kitten killed by frost” – certainly no minimalist understatement there – was my first impression of John Hawke’s collection Aurelia, which has won the 2015 Anne Elder Award for a first book of poetry. The line which contains the image, quoted below in full, reveals the book's defining qualities: its richness and luxuriance of language, its revelling in the long line, in poems that turn the page and then have to turn it again, so much material does he have to pack into them.
Under a gnarled quince tree the ghosts of three children
guard the skeleton of a kitten killed by frost. [‘What Was There,’ 11]
It’s not as simple as that, of course. This is no poet intoxicated by his own verbiage. Looking again at those lines, one senses a certain despair, a deep pain behind them. Nor is it really clear if it’s the author’s childhood or someone else’s that’s being evoked – that detail later in the poem about “the two old sisters who shut themselves / inside this house for twenty years” sounds a little too baroque to be strictly autobiographical – but then, how would I know?

How could I know? There is, admittedly, a good deal to be known about Hawke’s book. Some of the information is provided in his own preface; even more in the short introduction by Gig Ryan. Ryan is particularly useful in providing details about “Aurelia,” the title-poem of the volume – or, more specifically, about Gérard de Nerval’s Aurélia ou la rêve et la vie, the novella / prose poem the latter had just completed at the time of his suicide in 1855.

Ryan, however, does not choose to emphasise that final connection, explaining instead that:'Aurelia is a manifestation of art – "I first fell in love with Aurelia / in the face of that woman painted by Giovanni Bellini" – that is, love clasps the actual simultaneously with its ideal, just as Proust’s Swann imagines in embracing Odette, he embraces Botticelli’s Zipporah, whom she resembles' (xi). Hawke, in his preface, appears to agree:
When Nerval writes that dreams are a second life, he not only refers to the dreams we experience in sleep, but also to the dreams that arise as a consequence of lost desires, dreams perhaps thwarted by chance: of lives once meant, but never lived. (ix)
Aurélia is as much a record of Nerval’s own descent into madness as the simultaneous love story / dream diary it purports to be on the surface. Is it this Hawke has in mind when he claims that “to write is always to admit to, but also to dwell with, loss – to experience the loss of a once-loved person as a mode of living”?

It’s no use: such biographical hints and semi-deductions bear little fruit. Too much is hidden, half-hinted-at, veiled in the ambiguity between poem and reader – what Ryan refers to as the “labyrinth between world and Being”. This could be a collection centred around a defunct love affair, or a series of elegies to one (or more) “once-loved persons.” It seems too various, the product of too many different moods and times to fit easily into such a definition, however.

Nor is that surprising in a writer who seems to aspire to be some kind of latter-day Symbolist. One can imagine Hawke – from his poems, at least – as an eager attendee at Mallarmé's famous Tuesdays, perhaps even a satellite of Proust’s Madame Verdurin. He is, after all, the author of a 2009 monograph on the influence of the Symbolist movement in Australia, which argues (according to David Callahan in Reviews in Australian Studies) that “Symbolism is as important as Nationalism in the development of Australian literature.”

It all sounds a bit old-fashioned, one must admit: Art for Art’s sake against the Art of Social Utility: Walter Pater vs. John Ruskin. Just because it’s an old argument doesn’t mean it can ever be resolved, however: like that other perennial, content versus form, the answer is – inevitably – both, and neither.

Reviving old forms and ideas can have its uses, though. T. S. Eliot’s revaluation (one can hardly call it rediscovery) of the seventeenth-century Metaphysicals gave impetus to the whole of New Criticism, not to mention opening fresh perspectives on such “difficult” new poets as Wallace Stevens and Marianne Moore.

Has Hawke had similar success in plumbing this strange territory between reality and dream – between the lofty European artists he fantasises about and the Australian here-and-now he inhabits? It hardly seems probable in prospect, but I believe he goes a long way towards carrying it off.

There are some breathtaking poems here. My favourite, “The Point,” does a wonderful job of blending the two themes. First:
this is the place where a foreign novelist
once stood briefly before continuing his pilgrimage:
a part of my spirit will always remain here,
gazing like a ghost across this dark line of hills
Then returning to the more quotidian: “I simply halted where the bitumen ran out, / banking the car against the tussocky sand” (19). Novelist, narrator, and Aboriginal land protestors combine to construct a kind of epiphanic vision of Australia today.

Ryan, in her introduction, singles out its longest poem, “The Conscience of Avimael Guzman” – about Peru’s Communist Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) leader – for particular praise. Certainly Hawke balances Guzman against his fellow mythomane, Nobel Prize-winning novelist Mario Vargas Llosa, with consummate skill. For myself, as a fellow colonial (albeit one raised in New Zealand rather than Australia) I have to admit to a preference for those poems where the garish colours of our part of the world seem to leak in most strongly. “Pietà,” for instance, with its:
five degrees of nostalgia:
bad posture, imposture,
A glossy Ted Nugent poster, post-it notes in a volume
of Rameau’s Nephew … (5)
Or Hawke’s opening piece “Reliquary,” where “somewhere it is September 1986”:
And I’m feeling sorry for all the noise
beautiful poems will never contain,
because I am ‘modern’ but want to go back
for a few words, not many (1)
There are so many things that John Hawke does well, that it seems almost insulting to single out only these few strands. I’d like to keep quoting, pointing out particular pages and lines for praise, but perhaps it’s more useful at this stage to reiterate how churlish it would be to criticise Hawke’s desire to go back as far as the nineteenth century for those “few words, not many” (1).

This is no phony Aestheticist posturing – no attempt to “maintain ‘the sublime’ / In the old sense. Wrong from the start” (as in Pound’s “Hugh Selwyn Mauberley” sequence). Hawke is most definitely modern (with or without the screamers). He has a sense of humour, for a start (anyone who’s ever had to live with a Ted Nugent poster could hardly doubt it).

He’s a devilishly efficient poet. It’s hard to catch him out. No plangent last lines, no Ashberyesque cadences (for all that he undoubtedly owes to that poet). My one quarrel with this book is that its 40-odd pages have made me impatient to read more from the same pen, soon.

Works cited

Callahan D 2010 'Australian Literature and the Symbolist Movement by John Hawke.' Reviews in Australian Studies 4(4). Available at [accessed 31 March 2016]

Pound E 1920 'Hugh Selwyn Mauberley' [Part 1]. Available at [accessed 31 March 2016]

Dr Jack Ross works as a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Massey University’s Auckland Campus. His latest poetry book A Clearer View of the Hinterland appeared in 2014 from HeadworX in Wellington. His other publications include four full-length poetry collections, three novels, and three volumes of short fiction. He has also edited a number of anthologies and literary magazines, including (from 2014) Poetry NZ. He blogs at:


TEXT: Journal of Writing and Writing Courses (April 2016).
[Available at:]

[1254 wds]