Editors Maggie Emmett and Gaetano Aiello considered 777 poems read at Australia’s longest-running open-mike poetry reading to select 111 for this edition. The standard is high and the collection lives up to the promise on the back cover that it “demonstrates the vibrant diversity and depth of South Australia’s thriving poetry scene.”
This is a terrifying world to find oneself in: walking a medicated line from sanity to insanity and back again. The divide is blurred in this book, partly because of the poet’s egalitarian eye: there is no “us” and “them”. Everyone is hurting, and everyone is both utterly sane, and absolutely mad. Postcards from the Asylum presents a powerful picture of life inside an asylum – tender, warm, loving and fierce all at once.
This is a sure-footed and powerful collection which not only points a finger at governmental posturing, and the tragedies that humans create, but also provides a kind of solution and mythology to replace those that have failed us. It isn’t always easy to read, and best read slowly, so the impact of each poem can be allowed to unfold. This is poetry written at the limits of what our language can do; without sacrificing accessibility. It speaks to everyman; as conspirator; perpetrator; and fellow seeker.
The language is hard and unyielding, characteristics (since Salamun participated with his translator on this poem) that the poet elects. The language here and elsewhere consists of short images delivered in the fewest possible words.
The penetrating quality of his work speaks for itself, but – in addition to its humor and honesty – there is all-pervading grace. This arrests the reader and creates for him or her a memorable experience. Simic is a true poet in the classical manner, one capable of making the new from things that always were.
For a lover of the kind of complex poetry that Eliades writes, there will never be a substitute for the slow, repeated reading of words on a page. But listening to this CD is indeed a completely different experience – one where you can chant along, or allow lines to permeate directly into you while driving. Listening to Basil Eliades deliver his exquisite lines with breathless excitement, sincerity and elan, is indeed, delicious.
Charles Simic is a snug fit for the poet who uses the obvious to explore the mysterious and like any competent practitioner of the poet’s craft, he selects words exactly. To read these sixty poems, almost all of them short and ranging in date from 1986 to 2005, is to respond to the insights that govern a strange world disclosed by the familiar.
To read Paradiso by itself is a novel experience and well worth the special attention that it requires. This translation is exceptional and among so many stands out as particularly splendid and true.
It’s as if the characters function as a kind of strophe and antistrophe — the male voices pressing on with the war and the females analysing, wondering, and in their own way, pulling back even as they participate. The tension between these dispersed voices drives the narrative forward and helps give the story a drama which goes beyond the action on the battlefield.
Once again, Porter succeeds in that impossible juggling act of narrative and poetry. Even for the most casual of reader, El Dorado reads easily as a fast paced, intense and psychologically satisfying thriller. For those who want more than simply a quick escape, El Dorado explores complex topics of childhood innocence and guilt; love and hatred; desire and psychosis with the kind of taut intensity that only poetry can provide.