The Poetic Eye: Occasional Writings 1982-2012


This volume contains a selection of the Australian poet Michael Sharkey’s uncollected essays and occasional writings on poetics and poets, chiefly Australian and New Zealand. Reviews and conversations with other poets highlight Sharkey’s concern with preserving and interrogating cultural memory and his engagement with the practice and championing of poetry. Poets discussed range from Lord Byron to colonial-era and early-twentieth-century poets (Francis Adams, David McKee Wright, and Zora Cross), under-represented Australian women poets of World War I, traditionalists and experimentalists, including several ‘New Australian Poetry’ activists of the 1970s, and contemporary Australian and New Zealand poets. Writings on poetics address form and tradition, the teaching and reception of poetry, and canon-formation. The collection is culled from commissioned and occasional contributions to anthologies of practical poetics, journals devoted to literary and cultural history and book reviewing, as well as newspaper and small-magazine features from the 1980s to the present. The writing reflects Sharkey’s poetic practice and pedagogy relating to the teaching of literature, rhetorical analysis, cultural studies, and writing in universities, schools, and cultural organizations in Australia, New Zealand, China, and Germany. It also evidences Sharkey’s familiarity with literatures written in English and his wider career in publishing, editing, free-lance journalism, and the promotion of Australian and New Zealand literature, especially poetry.
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Biographical Note

MICHAEL SHARKEY, editor of the Australian Poetry Journal and author of more than a dozen collections of poems, is a former Associate Professor of Literature and Communication Studies at the University of New England (Armidale, NSW) and Chair (1993–2012) of the New England Writers Centre.

GORDON COLLIER, co-editor of the book series Cross/Cultures and the African studies journal Matatu, has also edited or co-edited several critical collections on postcolonial literatures and has published widely in the same field, including a study of Patrick White and an edition of Derek Walcott’s journalism.

Table of contents

Editor’s Preface
PART 1 (1979–90)
Romantic Hangover in Australian Poetry?
Out of Time
New Zealand City Streets and Gipsies on the Road
Interview with Alan Wearne
Pulling in a Trojan Horse
The Politics of Poetry
Beyond the Jindyworobaks
Storming the Teacups (Again)
Fading Shadows
Clear, Timeless Opus
Minority Groups Like the Living
Imperial Nigrescences
The Persistence of Mallarmé
Starting from Ulverstone
The Myth of the New and Others
Interview with Geoff Goodfellow
Something to Contribute: A Conversation
Cold Turkey in the Cantina
Poetry: The Melbourne Alternative
Old Tricks Transformed
First Thoughts on Everyday Rhetoric
An Interview with Eric Beach
VIP and Business-Class Poetry
The Great Singer, Icon, and Enigma
A Caution to Reviewers
The Australian Fascisti
The Jokes Just Get Verse and Verse
An Interview with Shelton Lea
Poetical Atlas of Political Diversity
Passionate Complexity Among the Loco-Poetic
Diverse Flights, Ethereal and Grounded
You’re Imagining It
PART 2 (1990–2003)
Stepping Back: A Word of (Auto)Biography
Zora Cross’s Entry into Australian Literature
From Duty to Tribute
The Poetry of Gwen Harwood
David McKee Wright, Maorilander
Mudrooroo Narogin and William Hart–Smith
The Province of Every Person
Cheer Up and Take It Lightly
McCuaig Made Poetry Talk
A Salom Course
Ern Burial
Black Stump or Burning Bush?
This is Not a Review
Celebrating the Poetry of the Ballad
Voyaging Through Depths and Shallows
In Celebration of Gwen Harwood
Harris’s Pavane
Compassionate Intensity
Goodfellow’s Semaphore and Other Messages
L’Chaim to Life
Far Away From How it Looks at Home
Dransfield Among the Biographers
New Music
Reviewing Now
Parody and Co.
Defending the Line of Wit
More About Wit
Poetic Voice
The Ventriloquial Muse
How Poetry Lines Up
PART 3 (2004–2012)
The Question in Poetry
Poetry and the Human Comedy
The Poetry of Lauren Williams
Byron’s ‘Deluge’
John Tranter’s “Australia Day”
How Poets Work: A Personal Note (Because I Was Asked)
How Do Poems Sound?
“But Who Considers Woman Day by Day?”
Starting from Melbourne
A Touchstone in Auckland
After Jerusalem
Subtle Conversation
Page’s Primer
Moving and Memorable
Inhabiting a Poem
Trans-Tasman Literary Relations
The Rapture Endures
“Something of Value”: An Introduction to John Fields’ ‘Signature’ Photographs
Onomastic Index


All interested in Australian and New Zealand poetry and poetics from colonial times to the first decade of the twenty-first century.