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This review is taken from PN Review 51, Volume 13 Number 1, September - October 1986.

THE SNIFF OF THE REAL Evan Jones, Left at the Post (University of Queensland Press) £3.95 pb.
John Blight, Holiday Sea Sonnets (University of Queensland Press) £9.95
Philip Mead, This River is in the South (University of Queensland Press) £3.95 pb.
Bruce Beaver, As it was (University of Queensland Press) £4.25 pb.

Evan Jones has long been linked to Vincent Buckley and Chris Wallace-Crabbe as the third of those Melbourne university poets who emerged in the 1950s, equipped by temperament, discipline and a cast of talent to take up and continue the tradition of McAuley and Hope. Left at the Post, only his fourth collection following Inside the Whale (1960), Understandings (1967) and Recognitions (1978), shows that he shares with Buckley a taste for calm, direct and authoritative statement of personal and moral perception, and with Wallace-Crabbe a fertility of wit that expresses itself primarily in a John-Fuller-like adeptness at formal variousness. The poet Evan Jones most reminded me of in Left at the Post was, however, an American, W. D. Snodgrass; not merely because his subject matter offers common ground in the sadness of divorce and the pathos with which maturity is one day perceived simply as ageing, but also because of a singular structural trick both writers use without self-pity - the attachment of emblematic values of loss to (un)important objects. In 'Souvenir' Jones speaks of a Swedish glass ash-tray, 'her first gift to me', which years later, as he puts it out again on 'the battered cedar table', revives in him the whole shoulder-shrugging chronicle of loss; in 'Shopping at Crittenden's' cat food performs a similar function; and in 'About the House' Jones reviews the entire furniture and contents of his house, finding that although the house now amounts to 'the home I never had' the things in ...


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