Monday musings on Australian literature: Poetry Month 2022 and Verse novels

Having launched their Poetry Month in 2021 which I wrote about at the time, Red Room Company (or, Red Room Poetry) clearly felt it was successful, because they are back again this year with another Poetry Month. Its aim is to “increase access, awareness and visibility of poetry in all its forms and for all audiences”, and it will run throughout the month of August.

From what I can tell, they are following a similar plan to last year with their 30in30 daily poetry commissions, poetry ambassadors, online workshops, prizes and residencies, and more. Do check their page, which includes a link to a calendar, to find ways in which you can take part, or, simply, introduce yourself to some new poets and poems.

Meanwhile, I thought I’d celebrate the month by writing a little tribute to verse novels.

Verse novels

When I decided to write this post, I found a good introduction to verse novels at The Australian Poetry Library. However, when I checked the link I’d saved, it said “currently unavailable”. I will share what it said, but you may not be able to find it online any more. (They do still have a Facebook page.)

A verse novel tells a long and complex story with many characters, much as a prose novel would, through the medium of narrative verse. The verse may be blank verse in the manner of Shakespeare, or free verse, or (less often) formal rhymed verse of any type.

The ancient epics were verse novels, of a sort, and so were the Alexandrian epyllia such as Apollonius’ Argonautica, but the modern verse novel, like the novel itself, is a fashion that found a large audience in the nineteenth-century: Don Juan (Byron), Amours de Voyage (Arthur Hugh Clough), The Ring and the Book (Robert Browning).

Movies, paperback novels and television seem to have killed it off in the early twentieth century, but it found a strong revival after the 1970s: Another life (Derek Walcott), The golden gate (Vikram Seth) and The changing light at Sandover (James Merrill).

Notable Australian verse novelists are Alan Wearne, Dorothy Porter, Les Murray, Steven Herrick and John Tranter.

A selection of Australian verse novels

Susan Hawthorne, Limen, book cover

Wikipedia’s article on the form provides a brief history, going back to epics like Gilgamesh. After appearing to have declined with Modernism, it has, Wikipedia continues, “undergone a remarkable revival” since the 1960s-70s, and is particularly popular in the Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand. I wonder why these particular regions?

I should add, though, that verse novels do have a longer history in Australia than this later 20th century revival suggests. CJ Dennis’ The songs of a Sentimental Bloke (1915) and The moods of Ginger Mick (1916)(my post) are earlier, and very popular, examples.

Of course, I did a little search of Trove, but, given the form’s apparent recent revival and the fact that Trove is not so useful yet for recent decades, I didn’t find much. However, I was intrigued to find reference to a satirical work called Solstice, by 20-year-old Matt Rubenstein. It was shortlisted for The Australian-Vogel award (in 1994, I presume). Sen, writing in The Canberra Times, was reasonably positive, saying that “the narrative has its share of sentimental blokes as well as philosophers like the homeless Arthur, and the relationships and issues it explores are treated relevantly as well as entertainingly. It could start a verse-novel cult. Could, I said.”

I’m not sure that there’s been quite a cult, but my little list below confirms some level of ongoing popularity in Australia. But, back to Rubenstein’s Solstice, I also found through Trove that it had been adapted by the author into a play to be performed at the Adelaide Festival of Arts in 1996, with Kate Ceberano as the featured singer. That says something about the quality of the work. I note that the play is available from Ligature Digital Publishing.

Anyhow, I do enjoy a verse novel, and have reviewed several on my blog, as have some other Aussie litbloggers. Here is a selection of some of the verse novels we have reviewed on our blogs:

  • Ali Cobby Eckermann, Ruby Moonlight (2012) (my post, and Lisa’s): this is particularly interesting because it is a First Nations historical fiction verse novel. It is a moving, and generous read.
  • Lesley Lebkowicz, The Petrov poems (2013) (my post): also historical fiction, this work tells the story of the Petrov affair providing a personal perspective on a very political event.
  • Susan Hawthorne, Limen (2013) (my post): Hawthorne’s quiet yet forceful work explores women going camping, the threats and vulnerabilities that confront them, and how they navigate the lines that appear.
  • Geoff Page, The scarring (1999) (my post): Page has written other verse novels, including Freehold, which I have also read, but The scarring is particularly strong and gut-wrenching about war, the mistakes people make, and the power men can wield over women.
  • Dorothy Porter, El Dorado (2007) (Brona): Porter’s last verse novel is described by Brona as “another dark crime story with a psychological twist”.
  • Dorothy Porter, The monkey’s mask (1994) (Brona): Porter’s most famous verse novel is also a psychological crime story, and, says Brona is “gritty, exciting & passionate”. It surely qualifies now as a classic, particularly given it is taught in schools and universities. It was also adapted for a feature film.
  • Alan Wearne, The night markets (1986) (Bill): this book was highly praised when it came out, and won significant awards including the ALS Gold Medal and the National Book Council Award. Bill knew Wearne at school, and has read this book a few times “because it feels so intensely familiar”. The Canberra Times reported on its ALS Gold Medal win, saying the judges ‘were impressed by the ambition and confidence with which Wearne approached his task. The novel’s subject, political and social change in the past two decades, had rarely been approached, they said, and its verse form was “bold and exciting”‘.

Readings Bookshop has provided lists of Australian and non-Australian children’s and YA verse novels, for those of you interested in these audiences.

Do you read verse novels? And if so, care to share your favourites (Aussie or otherwise)?

Ali Cobby Eckermann, Ruby Moonlight (Review)

ANZLitLovers ILW 2016Ali Cobby Eckermann has been on my radar for a while, so when Lisa announced her 2016 Indigenous Literature Week, I decided Eckermann’s verse novel Ruby Moonlight would be my first choice. This novel won the poetry prize and the book of the year in the 2013 New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards.

I enjoy verse novels but don’t read them often enough to build up a comprehensive understanding of the form. Eckermann’s Ruby Moonlight is the shortest and sparest of those I’ve reviewed on this blog, but its narrative is just as strong. It is set in colonial South Australia – the not-very-poetic subtitle being “a novel of the impact of colonisation in mid-north South Australia around 1880” –  and tells the story of Aboriginal teenage girl, Ruby Moonlight, whose family is massacred by white settlers. The novel reads like a classic three-act drama. It opens with the massacre and Ruby’s lonely wanderings, and then moves into a somewhat idyllic phase when Ruby meets the also lonely “colourless man”, Miner Jack. They become friends and lovers, giving each other the company and warmth they both so desire:

good friendships
blossom
slowly
(from “Friends”)

and

in the moonlight
solace is shared
in this forbidden friendship
( “Solace”)

But it can’t last, of course, not in that place and time, because neither the colonisers nor the Aboriginal lawmen will accept it: “it is the oasis of isolation/that tolerates this union”. Nothing else.

Ali Cobby Eckermann, Ruby MoonlightThe poetry, as you can see from my excerpts, is spare. There’s no punctuation, not even apostrophes, and no capitalisation except for proper names. Lines are generally short, and description is generally minimal. There’s a lovely but restrained used of repetition, and the rhythm is matter-of-fact, that is, it moves the story along with few flourishes (if that makes sense). The story is told through separately titled poems, each of which occupies its own page, though some only part of it. The titles are simple and to the point – “Ambush”, “Friends”, “Oasis”, “Hate”, “Cursed”, “Sunset”. You could almost track the trajectory of the story through its titles. This spareness, I think, enhances the emotional power. The poems say what they need to say without embellishment.

The excerpts above are from more narrative-focused poems, but there are also poems which provide context, describing the seasons as time passes, commenting on the landscape within which our characters operate, providing a sense of the country’s spirits watching, tending, ready to act. The novel opens on the poem “Nature” which sets the scene perfectly by conveying the opposing faces of nature – “sometimes/turning to/butterfly” or sometimes just to “dust” – which also subtly heralds the coming massacre. And, a few poems in, soon after the massacre, comes one describing nature’s nurturing of Ruby:

chirping red-browed finches lead to water
ringneck parrots place berries in her path
trust nature
(“Birds)

The words “trust nature” are repeated at the end of each couplet in this poem, providing a soothing mantra for Ruby.

Most of the poems are presented in couplets or triplets, but occasionally one uses a different structure, usually to mark a dramatic change. Early in the novel is the devastating, shaped-poem, “Ambush”, in which all lines but one comprise single words (“hack/hack/hack” it starts); and half-way through is another shaped-poem, “Tempo”, which marks both the passing of time and acts as a transition from a short time of idyll for Ruby and Jack to the appearance of others:

Jack knows the remainder of the conversation
before it was spoke ya see any blacks roaming
best ya kill ’em disease spreading pests
(“Visitor”, immediately after “Tempo”)

The irony of it! Who brought disease?

So, Ruby and Jack. One of the delights of the book is the sympathetic representation of these two characters. Bereft after the loss of her family, Ruby stumbles across Jack, a loner who scrapes a living out of fur-trapping. Both are outcasts in colonial Australia, Jack an Irishman, a hated “Mick” (“a music-less man stands aloof at the bar/scowling his hatred for the Micks”, from “Loose”) and of course Ruby, a lubra or black woman. These two cautiously find a “small trust … growing” (“Solace”) between them, but it is a “forbidden friendship”, forbidden from both cultures, so their times together are snatched carefully. Ruby is watched by members of another mob, people who are “slowed by fatigue” and “weary with worry” (“Signs”), and who know the dangers:

camp smoke whispers
tell story of the killings
(“Whispers)

Jack and Ruby become the target of the aforementioned “music-less man” – a man who’d lost his “music heart” after an act of barbarity – and his hired help, two brothers “with rotten teeth smirks” (“Scheme”). Hatred and greed fuel these men. And so the scene is set, but it doesn’t quite play out the way you expect, because Eckermann wants to focus more on our universal need for warmth, love and companionship, and also on survival.

The novel is imbued with indigenous presence, from the opening where Ruby’s family live in “Harmony” in their environment, through her meeting with the other mob, the Cloud people, “on their winter trek”, to the appearance of “Kuman”, her guardian spirit who guides her to safety.

Ruby Moonlight is a special read that adds another perspective and voice to colonial contact narratives, a voice that pays respect to indigenous law and traditions, addresses the politics of contact, but also recognises our personal and universal need for love and companionship. It’s a warm and generous book, but it doesn’t pull punches either. A good read.

awwchallenge2016Ali Cobby Eckermann
Ruby Moonlight
Broome: Magabala Books, 2012 (2015 reprint)
74pp.
ISBN: 9781921248511

Lesley Lebkowicz, The Petrov poems (Review)

Canberra poet Lesley Lebkowicz has made a couple of brief appearances in my blog: first in my post on The invisible thread anthology, and then when she won this year’s ACT Poetry Award. I was consequently more than happy to accept for review her latest book, The Petrov poems.

English: Evdokia Petrova at Mascot Airport, Sy...

Evdokia being escorted by two Russian diplomatic couriers to a plane at Mascot Airport, Sydney (Presumed Public Domain, from NAA, via Wikipedia)

It’s intriguing that nearly 60 years after the events, we are still interested in the Petrovs. In fact, I have written about them before, in my review of Andrew Croome’s historical novel, Document Z. Most Australians will know who they are, but for those global readers here who don’t, the Petrovs were a Russian couple who worked at the Soviet Embassy in Canberra in the early 1950s. Vladimir (Volodya), Third Secretary, and his wife Evdokia (Dusya) were both Soviet intelligence officers (or, to put it baldly, spies). They defected in 1954. The defection was particularly interesting because Vladimir defected first, and Evdokia two weeks later at the airport in Darwin after some dramatic scenes at Sydney’s Mascot airport.

At first glance, The Petrov poems looks like a collection of poems but in fact it is a verse novel, albeit one comprising many short individually-titled poems. These poems are organised into four “chapters”: Part 1, Volodya defects; Part 2, Dusya defects; Part 3, The Petrovs at Palm Beach; and Part 4, The Petrovs in Melbourne.

I must admit that I wondered, initially, why Lebkowicz had decided to write about the Petrovs, given that they have already been picked over in novels, non-fiction, theatre, and television. But, as soon as I started reading it, I could see why. Lebkowicz gets into the heart of these two characters, bringing them back to ordinary human beings who were caught up in something that was both of and not of their own making. It is a rather pathetic story. There are no heroes here – and yet, as happens with these sorts of things, it captured the world’s attention for a short time.

Now, before I comment specifically on this book, I’d like to quote another Canberra poet Paul Hetherington from an interview with Nigel Featherstone in the online literary journal Verity La:

One of the ways I recognise the poetic is when I find works in which language is condensed, ramifying, polysemous and unparaphraseable. Part of what I wish to do when writing poems is to make works that speak in such ways – but to do so without resorting to any kind of trickery or artificial obscurity.

While I wouldn’t use words like “ramifying” and “polysemous”, and while we can paraphrase the ideas to a degree, this is pretty much what Lebkowicz achieves in The Petrov poems. In just 80 pages or so she manages to not only tell the story of their lives but get to the nub of their hearts and psyches – as much, anyhow, as anyone can do for another person. We learn that Volodya is not succeeding at spying:

He wants to succeed but stumbles. Failure
follows him like iron torn from a roof and
rattled along the wind.
(from “Glass I”)

We learn that he loves Dusya (“Dusya is his place in the world”), but that he loves booze, his dog and prostitutes more. He seems weak, but he’s a man struggling. With Stalin’s death and the arrest of his boss, he fears reprisals when he returns to Moscow. Here he is at the moment of defecting (which he does, after disagreements on the subject, without telling Dusya):

Once again he’s going to be wrenched from the soil.
He remembers his father – struck by lightning, buried up to his neck
by foolish men, and dying in the freezing night.
Then chaos and not enough food. Uprooting a full-grown plant
is no easy thing: so many roots
are wound through the earth. He mutters the Russian words
for sadness and home and ruffles his Alsatian’s fur.
(from “Loss”)

Dusya, on the other hand, is a stronger character, but she has suffered severe losses in her life, including her first love and her daughter:

This is something Dusya does not allow herself to think: how her
life might have been if Romàn had not been arrested. […]
If she had gone on taking happiness for granted. Living with
Romàn had been like walking along a winter street and arriving
in a field of warm poppies. If Romàn had not been broken in a
labour camp. If Irina had not died –
(from Romàn I)

While she understands Volodya’s fear, she fears even more what might happen to her family if she defects. At Darwin airport she doesn’t want to make a decision: “If only/this government man would abduct her”. But of course he can’t.

We then watch them as their relationship falters, first during ASIO’s interrogation, and then the years of living together in Melbourne, officially in disguise but known nonetheless. (“The whole street knows they are Petrovs -/too many photos, too much publicity”).

While I’m not a Petrov expert, I’ve read enough to feel that Lebokowicz’s interpretation is authentic. She explores what happens when the political interferes with the personal; she recognises the pull of culture and the despair that losing one’s home can engender; and she sees that corruption is not confined to communism:

so when ASIO falsifies (No! Not falsifies
amends, adjusts, even corrects) the documents
he brought from the Embassy – of course he assents
(from “Bones”)

Australian Women Writers ChallengeThese are wonderful, readable poems. They are poetic but, to quote Paul Hetherington’s goal, without “trickery” and “artificial obscurity”. The imagery is strong but clear. I particularly liked the way Lebkowicz varies and plays with form. None of it is rhymed, but there are sonnets, couplets, poems with multi-line stanzas but closing on a single dramatic line, and others. There are poems with short lines or terse rhythms, indicating action or stress, and poems with long lines conveying thoughts and reflections. There is also a shape-poem, “Torment”, in which the zigzag shape mirrors Dusya’s distress (“Her life is a staircase that switches directions”).

Like any good historical fiction – if a verse novel can be called that – you don’t need to know the history to understand the story told here. And like any good historical fiction writer, Lebkowicz has produced something that enables us to reconsider an historical event from another perspective and to understand the humanity below the surface of the facts. An excellent and moving read.

Lesley Lebkowicz
The Petrov poems
Sydney: Pitt Street Poetry, 2013
95pp.
ISBN: 9781922080141

(Review copy supplied by Zeitgeist Media Group)

Susan Hawthorne, Limen (Review)

Susan Hawthorne, Limen, book cover

Cover: Courtesy Spinifex Press

Limen is a lovely word, isn’t it? It’s the title of Susan Hawthorne’s recently published verse novel. You probably know what it means, but just in case you’d forgotten like I had, it means threshold or doorway. This Limen though is a verse novel!

If you are uncertain about novels in verse, this would be a great one to try. The story is easy to follow; the language spare and beautiful, but accessible. It has a chronological structure with nine parts (titled Day 1 to Day 9) bookended by a Prologue and an Epilogue. The plot is straightforward. It’s about two women (Woman 1 and Woman 2) who go on a camping trip to the river – a favourite spot – with their young dog (Dog) . They arrive, full of anticipation for a good time, but “thunderclouds gather/on the horizon”. Overnight it rains and by Day 6, the longest section in the novel, they are trapped by the rising river. The story is told through the eyes of these three characters, each having a clearly defined role and personality.

Woman 1 is the driver and, perhaps because of this, is the more anxious one. She can’t sleep at night (“sleep avoids me/my head pops up”, “river rises by stealth/night terror”). Woman 2 is initially less worried, reporting on their activities (“we make lunch/talk in the dampness”) and on how Woman 1 is going, but as the waters rise she too becomes concerned:

she tells me her fears
only now do I understand
her wakefulness
her restless checking of the river at night
(Day 6)

The dog remains calm, caring only for physical comforts (“my ever-filling bowl/gone”), stick-chasing games, and the presence of its owners (“I sleep/curled paws/your body warm next to mine”).

Two men they had met in the local town appear, tow their bogged car out, and leave, telling them “you’ll be right mate” (in the italics Hawthorne effectively uses for dialogue). However, the river defeats them once again so they decide to “stay with the car”. Two young indigenous men, brothers and miners, appear, offer help, then set off to walk to the mine when the river can’t be crossed. The women, worried about the young men’s safety despite “their bush knowledge/carried on down the generations”, wait. Finally, other cars appear and they face the river crossings in convoy…

Limen is a beautiful read. It has its tensions but it’s not a thriller. The strangers they meet are not sinister, but just other people trying to manage the flooding river. The lack of names for any of the characters gives it a mythic tone. Hawthorne describes the joys of camping – the physical beauty, the spiritual peace, the time for talk and reflection – and the disappointments and fears – the pig-hunting that destroys the tranquility, the floods that threaten their safety. The writing is spare. There’s lovely imagery referencing female lives (“the river is a necklace of pools”, “paperbark/ruffled as a frilled ballgown” and “clouds are crocheted close/threatening”) but when the tension is highest the language becomes terse and plain. The story’s momentum is carried by changes in rhythm – from the more lyrical descriptive sections to those pared down to the basics:

start
rev
release

nothing
(Day 6)

The text is supported by simple, stylish, irregularly interspersed, black and white illustrations – a lizard, tire tracks, patterns in the mud.

Now, back to the title. Clearly the women find themselves at a threshold. Do they wait, staying with the car, or do they go? There is no conflict between them, but there are gentle hints of other things amiss – a “black spirit dog … sniffing the Styx”, the pig hunting that destroys the peace, the white policeman who shows no concern about whether the two young indigenous men who set off on foot have made it through (“it’s their/problem if they’re/out there“). These aren’t laboured, but they suggest other thresholds and are there I’m sure for us to notice and consider. For the women

this tiny crack
in our lives
wind and rain strewn
stranded on the limen
[ …]
where we could
be on both sides of time
span beingness
like an unfinished arc
of a bridge
is closing
(Epilogue)

until, perhaps, next time …

Do read this novel, if you can, and see what you think.

Susan Hawthorne
illus. by Jeanné Brown
Limen
North Melbourne: Spinifex Press, 2013
166pp.
ISBN: 9781742198606

(Review copy courtesy Spinifex Press)

Geoff Page, The scarring

Geoff Page (born 1940) is a Canberra-based poet who has been active in the Australian poetry scene for many decades now. He was also, for nearly three decades, an English teacher. Page has published several volumes of poetry and at least three verse novels, of which The scarring is his first.

The scarring, which I read a few years ago but have been wanting to review here, is, I have to say, one of the most gut-wrenching works I have read. Page has set it in the landscape – rural northern New South Wales – of his childhood and says it was inspired by rumours he heard as a child (but it is not a “true” story). The story spans around seven decades from the 1910s to the 1980s, and chronicles the lives of a couple from their youth and courtship through to old age. As the blurb on the back cover says, “their separation through war sows the seeds of their eventual destruction”.

One of the things I love about the book is the way Page weaves so much of the social and political history of twentieth century Australia through the lives of this couple – war, the Great Depression, the boom of the 1950s, city versus country life and values, and of course gender inequity and the old double standard! The scene is set from the first line:

Breed em tough, the old man says.

Little do we know what lies beneath this seemingly innocuous opening – and I’m not about to give it away to you now. Let’s just say that Page deftly weaves the breeding motif through his tale of a young couple running a cattle property.

Here is an example of how history is told alongside life on the farm:

the new white stiffness of the sheets
where Sally will be his forever

‘Forever’ moves on two years more.
The set of skills they share between them
shoves them sideways from the news:
Sudetenland, then through to Munich,
Kristallnacht and into Prague.
It rattles in through bakelite
and once or twice on Cinesound
showing at the flicks in town,
that lifted arm and square moustache
relishing a massed salute.

And so the story moves on to its more or less inevitable – given the events that occur – conclusion. This is not flowery poetry. Page tends more to a spare style that is well suited to his setting and subject.  The poetry’s insistent rhythm draws you on, and Page’s use of repetition slowly but subtly builds up the tension. This is a novel that you’ll want to read in one sitting.

Page is, I think, a little too unsung … but then, isn’t that the case with most poets?

Geoff Page
The scarring
Alexandria: Hale & Iremonger, 1999
111pp.
ISBN: 0868066826

C.J. Dennis, The moods of Ginger Mick

Sometimes a bloke gits glimpses uv the truth
(“In Spadger’s Lane”)

I wasn’t sure, really, that I wanted to read CJ Dennis’ verse novel, The moods of Ginger Mick, which I received as a review copy from the Sydney University Press as part of their Australian Classics Library – but have surprised myself. I rather enjoyed reading it and am glad that I had this little push to do so!

The moods of Ginger Mick
The moods of Ginger Mick cover (Courtesy: Sydney University Press)

The moods of Ginger Mick was published in 1916 just weeks before the big Conscription Referendum, according to Philip Butters who wrote the new introduction to this edition. It does not however buy into that debate. The book comprises 15 poems “written” by Dennis’ other character, The Sentimental Bloke, at whose wedding Mick was best man. The poems introduce us to Mick and his larrikin life before the Great War and then go on to chronicle his life as a soldier.

Dennis writes his poems in broad Australian slang (but there is a glossary at the end). Most are 6-line stanzas with an ababcc rhyme (the same as Wordsworth’s “Daffodils”!) but every now and then there is a different rhyme scheme which mixes it up a little. The sweet poem “The singing soldiers”, for example, has a sing-song aab(with an internal rhyme)acc, while the poignant “Sari Bair” about the eponymous battle has 4-line stanzas with a simple aabb rhyme.

I enjoyed reading the poems, not only for their evocative language but also for their subject matter. While their setting and language make them very much of a particular time and place, their concerns have some universality. They are about egalitarianism vs class difference, and about what it means to be a man (a “bloke” as it were). Mick starts off as a bit of a larrikin – one who cares not for the “toffs” and for whom the “toffs” care not! As he says in an early poem:

But I’m not keen to fight so toffs kin dine
On pickled olives …
(“War”)

What sends him to war in the end is “The call uv stoush” but, when he gets there, he starts to discover that in uniform all men are equal, that

… snobbery is down an’ out fer keeps,
It’s grit an’ reel good fellership that gits yeh friends in ‘eaps.
(“The push”)

This poem, “The push”, provides a wonderfully colourful roll call of the sorts of men who enlisted. Other poems cover the support of women at home, hopes for work when they return home now they’ve proved themselves (after all the “‘earty cheerin’ … per’aps  we might be arstin’ fer a job”) and the sense that Australia has grown up as a nation (“But we ‘av seen it’s up to us to lay our toys aside”). There is ironic humour (as in “Rabbits”) and pathos (as in “To the boys who took the count” and “The game” in which Ginger Mick finally realises that he’s found his metier). There’s also some racism that was, unfortunately, typical of the time. And of course there is patriotism, with some rather lovely descriptions of the Australian landscape. I just have to mention here some references to gums:

An’ they’re singin’, still they’re singin’, to the sound uv guns an’ drums.
As they sung one golden Springtime underneath the wavin’ gums.
(“The singing soldiers”)

An’ we’re ‘opin’ as we ‘ear ’em, that, when the next Springtime comes,
You’ll be wiv us ‘ere to listen to that bird tork in the gums
(“A letter to the front”)

As a group, the poems offer an interesting insight into Australia’s experience of the First World War, particularly given their mix of realism and romanticism that belies perhaps the recent glorification that’s developed around our ANZAC heritage. If you are interested in Australia’s cultural and literary heritage, it is well worth giving this short little book a look.

C.J. Dennis
The moods of Ginger Mick
Sydney: Sydney University Press, 2009
87pp.
ISBN: 9781920898984

(Review copy supplied by the Sydney University Press)