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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Melbourne shows poetic worth in all its lyric forms - John Kinsella in SMH

"MELBOURNE is an ''epicentre in world poetry''. It has long been a dynamic focus for Australian poetry publishing, and it's a major plus that there are publishers with substantially differing attitudes to the practice. The tensions, crossovers, departures and even conflicts of the various ''scenes'' (reductive word) are generative, and intensify a debate about why poetry is written, why it matters and what it might achieve.

Melbourne poetry can be parochial and internationalist at once. This seems like an oxymoron, but it's not. A poetry that relates to the place of its creation, but looks outwards, allows itself to be read energetically under many conditions and circumstances. The innovative wordplays and cultural digressiveness of Michael Farrell have opened up many lines of communication with poets in America and Britain. His work owes much to a sense of community with other Melburnian innovative poets, and their desire to speak outwards as well as inwards.

It's been a fair while since I visited the city, but the first thing I did this time was visit Kris Hemensley's remarkable and essential Collected Works in Swanston Street. The shop is a conduit for world poetry, not only in its breadth and vision, and not only in its ongoing support of poetry readings and book launches, but in the continuing conversation Hemensley has with his patrons (and those who just drop by for a chat).

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John Kinsella won the 2012 [Victorian] Premier's prize for Armour.

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