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This review is taken from PN Review 238, Volume 44 Number 2, November - December 2017.

Cover of The Collected Poems
Barry WoodDarkening Landscape

Terence Tiller, The Collected Poems (Eyewear Publishing) £24.99
O those dawn-waders, cold-sea-gazers,
The long-shanked ibises that on the Nile
Told one hushed peasant of rebirth
Move in the calm immortal frieze
On the mausoleum of my incestuous
And self-fructifying death.

The lines quoted above are from ‘Egyptian Register’, a poem by ‘Ern Malley’ (1918–43), the Australian working-class modernist invented by James McAuley and Harold Stewart to debunk the style and politics of modern poetry and of the Anglo-Scottish Apocalyptic group in particular. Several of the Apocalytics were based in Egypt and the Middle East during the 1940s and Tiller was undoubtedly influenced by their work. Although he became one of the forgotten men in subsequent decades, Tiller was highly productive and well-regarded during the period: he published three collections of poetry with The Hogarth Press, appeared in the Apocalyptics anthology The White Horseman, in John Lehmann’s Penguin New Writing series and various other magazines. Another collection was published by Hogarth in 1957 and two further volumes were published by Chatto & Windus in 1968 and 1979. There has been a flurry of interest in 1940s poetry in the last few years: Jack Beeching’s collected poems was published in Spain a few years ago and the excellent Shoestring Press has recently published collections by Nicholas Moore and G. S. Fraser. Now Eyewear Publishing has produced Tiller’s Collected Poems which contains all six of his books with an introduction by Todd Swift (who also runs the press), small selections of poems by his daughter and grandson and ...

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