HomeIDIOM #53. n1 reviewsAnthology

Contemporary Australian Poetry

Small contemporary australian poetryEditors: Martin Langford, Judith Beveridge, Judy Johnson, David Musgrave
Publisher: Puncher & Wattmann (2016), 658 pages
RRP: $49.95

This monumental new publication from Puncher & Wattmann is a treasure trove of Australian voices that will be an invaluable resource for all English teachers. The anthology collects contemporary Australian poetry from the last quarter century, including more than 200 poets and more than 500 poems published between 1990 and 2016. The four editors are all poets themselves (and Musgrave is the founder of Puncher & Wattmann) and their own works are also included in the anthology.

The poems are organised alphabetically by author rather than chronologically, which makes sense for a collection that focuses on a relatively short time frame and makes for some interesting juxtapositions if you’re working your way through the text, so the venerable expatriate Clive James is preceded by young Melbourne poet Duncan Hose, for example. No poet gets more than six poems, so a glance through the contents page to see which poets get as many as five or six poems gives the casual reader some idea of the perceived eminence of the poets included (for the record, Stephen Edgar, Les Murray, Jan Owen, Peter Porter, John Tranter and Chris Wallace-Crabbe get six poems each).