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This review is taken from PN Review 42, Volume 11 Number 4, March - April 1985.

LITERARY NATIONALISM The Younger Australian Poets, selected by Robert Gray and Geoffrey Lehmann (Hale & Iremonger, Sydney) $12.95, $6.95 pb.

First, some facts. While half of this anthology is taken up by the work of six poets (represented by ten or more pages), three of these (Les Murray and the editors) account for one third of the total number of pages. Five more poets are represented by five to seven pages each, and the rest, eighteen poets, by four or fewer pages each. Six of the twenty-nine poets are women. None are aboriginals. Seven were born outside Australia. Thirteen were anthologized by Rodney Hall in the big Collins book. 'Younger' means being born after (or being) Les Murray. Nineteen of the poets are thirty-five or older, and of these eleven are forty or older. Only four were born in the 1950s, and only one is as young as thirty.

One expects anthologies of contemporary poetry to be polemical; their excitement comes from the urgency of their claim to publicize recent achievements, to identify national trends, and to encourage promise. Such anthologies are often typified by the insistence that they represent something really new which revivifies the language, often despite serious attempts by older, established poets, to deny them access to audiences and publishers. Les Murray is studied in Australian schools, Geoffrey Lehmann is a member of the Literature Board of the Australian Council, and Robert Gray has four books of poetry to his credit, and as well as a number of literature fellowships he has also won a travelling scholarship. The Younger Australian Poets is a different ...


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