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This review is taken from PN Review 96, Volume 20 Number 4, March - April 1994.

HARD PLACES A.D. HOPE, orpheus (ANGUS & ROBERTSON) $12.95 (AUS.)
GEOFFREY LEHMANN, Children's Games, Angus & Robertson, $12.99 (Aus.)
GEOFF PAGE, Selected Poems (Angus & Robertson) $12.95 (Aus.)
MARK O'CONNOR, Fire - Stick Farming: Selected Poems 1972 - 90 (Hale & Iremonger)
LAURIE DUGGAN, The Home Paddock (Noone's Press)
LYNN HARD, Dancing on the Drainboard (Angus & Robertson) $14.95 (Aus.)

Poetry in Australia is now dominated by Les Murray and Robert Gray to the one side, John Tranter and John Forbes to the other; and, although it would be quite wrong to describe Australian poetry as a continuous war of two factions, it is nonetheless true that Australian poets tend to sense an intuitive affinity with the one side or the other. Crudely put, the rivalry is between the conservative and the post-modern, if by conservative we mean respect for the idea that human experience (which may extend to experience of transcendence) is expressible in language and through the forms and traditions evolved by human history, and if by post-modern we mean a radical questioning of language, form, tradition, and indeed the cognitive processes that create these expressions of our experience. Naturally such labelling has an unsatisfying arbitrariness about it, and insults the intelligence of one side or the other, or both; but it remains true that this divide is more clearly apparent in Australia at present, for better or worse, than it is in North America, the British Isles, or even New Zealand.

Like Judith Wright, A. D. Hope has long stood outside the nuisance of this combat, and is now spoken of in Australia in tones of bemused reverence, as the old deaf satyr-sage living in splendid isolation in that most non-organic, artificial and American of Australian cities, Canberra. Well past eighty, he is often seen as an odd survivor from an Augustan Age of ...


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