A Pod of Poets

I knew about the Radio National poetry progam Poetica of course, a long running poetry program hosted by Mike Ladd; they’ve even broadcast a couple of my poems in their ‘First Hearing’ series aeons ago. But I didn’t know about the ‘Pod of Poets‘ project, which is an audio archive of a group of important Australian poets.

They describe it this way:

A Pod of Poets is a series of eleven, 40-minute podcasts of Australian poetry, read by the authors. The poets come from all over Australia; some are emerging talents and some are established; several of them are on the school syllabus.

The audio is available to download here and you’ll also find transcripts, photographs, interviews, and more. We hope that this website will be an ongoing resource for researchers, schools, universities and the general podcast audience.

The poets are: Robert Adamson, Les Murray, Joanne Burns, John Kinsella, Josephine Rowe, Craig Billingham, L.K. Holt, Aidan Coleman, Jayne Fenton Keane, Martin Harrison, Sam Wagan Watson, Kathryn Lomer, Esther Ottaway, John Clarke and Jordie Albiston.

Definitely worth a listen!


I just finished reading ‘Rivers’, (Fremantle Arts Centre Press) a collection of poetry by three very different poets: Peter Porter, Sean O’Brien and John Kinsella. I must admit that the concept of a ‘celebration of rivers by three of the most eminent voices in contemporary poetry’ was one that immediately drew me; my own most recent book is largely about rivers.

However, I was a little disappointed, especially in the Peter Porter section, which I wanted to like so much. He’s lived in London too long I think, and even then there’s nothing as moving as say, Roni Horn’s gorgeous photographs of the swirling Thames in his book ‘Another Water’ (Scalo Press), which I bought at the New Tate a couple of years ago. Porter seems at his best now writing in ironic quatrains like an early Auden. I liked:

When Caesar led his troops across the Rubicon,

They thought: ‘This guy’s no Marius or Sulla,

He’s number One,’ and shouted out his song,

‘I am the Very Hungry Caterpillar’

John Kinsella’s were better I thought, especially the ‘dry flow interludes’ but my favourite part was Sean O’Brien’s sections especially the polluted and choked city rivers in ‘Eating the Salmon of Knowledge from Tins’ and especially these lines from ‘A Coffin-Boat’:

This place

will be nothing, was nothing, its tenses

Sold off one by one until at last the present stands

Alone like a hole in the air. But still

This is history, this silence and disuse…

Speaking of swimming in shark-infested waters…

Speaking of swimming in shark-infested waters, I received the ‘Rivers’ poetry collection by Peter Porter, Kinsella and O’Brien from the Poetry Foundation yesterday, and am looking forward to reading it, after having read the review in ABR earlier in the year. That was the one that included the review of my collection, loosely grouped together under the theme of rivers, but my review was very much the minor one. I met another writer who saw it later, who said, ‘I felt sorry for you’, which was nice, but worrying also. Was it that bad?

At least the TAIN Review, which was just as short, was more directly positive.


The first review…

The first review (written by Geoff Page) of ‘The State of the Rivers and Streams’ appeared in ‘Australian Book Review’ this week, which was exciting and scary, especially when I saw it was put against a book called ‘Rivers’ by Peter Porter, Sean O’Brien and John Kinsella, a couple of important names in Australian poetry there! The review itself was short, but quite positive, if not the enthusiastic, over-the-top setting the world on fire review you might hope for. I’ll need to think about it for a couple of days. But I’ve put it online below>>>

Geoff Page Review from ABR