Frustrated by the perception that Australian poetry is dry, inaccessible and focused only on the country’s landscape, acclaimed poet Jamie Grant decided to form his own collection. One that properly encompassed the liveliness of our country’s writing and showed that the only thing dry about Australian poetry was the humour within it.
The collection ranges from the early nineteenth century of Francis Macnamara and Charles Harpur, through the later years of CJ Dennis and Henry Lawson, right up to the present day of Gig Ryan, David Malouf, Stephen McInerney and Kate Jennings.
The preoccupations of the different eras are given a full airing – convicts and stockriders, the challenges of drought and war, the rivalry between Melbourne and Sydney, the divide between the city and the bush, and the different approaches of generations X, Y and Z.
The ‘smaller’ issues have their outing too: love, barbecues, giraffes, sky writing and pumpkins so big they don’t seem real. For anyone curious about what makes Australians who they are, this collection is a must-have. Illustrated throughout with etchings by Bridget Farmer, this book should be in every Australian home.
“I have always held poets in awe because I couldn’t understand them,” says Phillip Adams in his foreward. “Yet from childhood on, I stumbled upon poets I could understand, who used two or three words where I’d waste a paragraph trying to distill a feeling, an image, an idea.”
Born in Melbourne, Jamie Grant has a degree in English at La Trobe University and worked as an editor, bookseller, journalist and literary critic. He began publishing his own poetry in the 1970s. His work has appeared in numerous literary magazines.
Grant has published eight volumes of poetry and five poetry anthologies. His first poetry collection was a joint publication with Graeme Kinross-Smith – Turn Left at Any Time with Care, 1975, his latest work is Glass on the Chimney, 2014.
Image: 100 Australian Poems – You need to know