by Ralph Elliott
GEOFF PAGEs recent A Readers Guide to Contemporary Australian Poetry discusses the work of 100 contemporary poets, neatly arranged alphabetically
from Robert Adamson to Fay Zwicky. For good measure, the book concludes
with a list of 100 other poets suggested as no less worthy of the readers
attention, and I can think or other poets who deserve a place in either
list, like Canberras Michael Thwaites and Geoff Page himself, who modestly
excluded himself, but who does figure in Made In Australia.
That Gisela Trieschs and Rudi Krausmanns bilingual anthology is restricted
to a mere 80 poets is due to each poem being faced by a translation into
German. Forty-six of these poets also figure in Pages Guide and
there is more than coincidental, at times verbal, similarity between Pages
lengthy introduction to contemporary Australian poetry and Volker Wolfs
German introduction to the bilingual anthology. Who is echoing whom is
not for me to speculate.
Wolf as one of the group of translators which also includes the two editors,
charged with the gargantuan task of rendering into German verse the enormous
variety of language and styles represented in poems as diverse as Les
Murrays The people are eating dinner in that country north
of Legges Lake and Ania Walwiczs performance poems (i.e.,
poetic prose pieces) Australia and The Tattoo.
... read The Canberra Times review
Made for Export
by Evelyn Juers
Made in Australia is a bilingual English-German edition of selected
work by eighty contemporary Australian poets. This literary crowd, and
its host of German apparitions, is squeezed into a mere three hundred
pages, as a kind of export package. Each poets name is actually stamped
with the familiar, triangular Australian Made trade logo. Poetry as
merchandise. Please consider.
In the past, if you lived in an isolated place, hawkers used to go from
town to town, offering a selection of wares. In Morning Becomes Electric,
the poet Bruce Dawe writes about door-to-door salesmen,/ irrational,
obsessed, opening sample cases in the kitchen,/ giving you an argument
of sorts/ before you have even assembled your priorities. This book is
like a hawkers suitcase, offering the customer a bit of everything: two
Zwickys, one Malouf, three Kefalas, a Nigel Roberts, a joanne burns, plenty
of Les A. Murray, much Tranter, a Couani, a couple of Beveridges, and
a few items of dubious value. If you scratch your head, unable to choose,
the top layers just for show; theres more to entice; youll end up buying
something. I like this inversion of the usual priorities, that Australian
poetry should be dispersing these samplings from its rich literary centre
to the remote German readership of the global village.
If they buy, what will they get? How is Australia being presented through
its poetry, and how is poetry being transmitted from an Australian base?
... read the Southerly review