Earlier Poetry

Poetry does not sell in big numbers. Most book titles sell rapidly at first, then slowly for years, then go out of print. Earlier poetry usually stays out of print unless/until chosen for the poet's Selected Poems. Unlike some more commercial publications of this kind, a Selected should be the equivalent of an artist's retrospective and gather together in one book a sampling of the best and most representative poetry from 20 years or so of sustained writing and publication. Over time a poet may publish a second, even a third, Selected Poems.

New and Selected Poems

My Selected was published in 1998, and sold out quite quickly, which was gratifying (a Selected, full of re-prints, is a bargain but can sell slowly if readers have enough of the earlier work). It includes a sizeable collection of new and previously unpublished poems about animals, odd characters, acupuncturists, follies and visitants. The publisher recently found one more box of them hidden away in the warehouse, so I have an unexpected couple of dozen left (should you want one).

Here, in reverse order of publication, are the earlier books of mine included in it:

The Rome Air Naked - a collection of poems based on my six-month Australia Council residency in Rome. It includes the largest group of love poems I have published (!) and many (of what I have named) concurrent poems - fragments and samples and short poems mixed together on the page with letters, histories, etc. Also a selection of cut-up poems based on my prose accounts of Rome.

Feeding the Ghost - poems from many sources, something of a miscellany, with political and satirical poems from Australia, poems about art and poetry - what I call 'feeding the ghost' - but with the bulk of poems set throughout my travels in Europe and ending in a long sonnet sequence of my Residency at the National University of Singapore.

Barbecue of the Primitives - a true miscellany, poems based on city, family and country, with special emphasis on the experiences and vulnerabilities of lovers, parents, mothers. Again, a contrast between the local and the international, with some expansive poems on wheatbelt life and land, and poems of singers, composers, etc.

Sky Poems - as seen in the Current Poems

The Projectionist - a verse novel before I thought to use that term. This book uses an un-named lyric narrator who describes life in and around a strange family by the name of Benchley. It is a tautly constructed series of portraits and narratives and lyric poems of searching, suffering and psychological metaphysics. I experimented a lot with syntax and imagery in this collection and it is tensile and alternating - between raw-to-grim and rather ecstatic. There is a religious awareness running through it, made ironic by the somewhat grotesque family presence.

The Silent Piano - my first collection, in two main categories: poems of family and rural life (my own) in the South West of Western Australia, and poems based on historical figures from Europe. The rural poems are frequently stark and include fairly violent representations of nature and farming life, in contrast therefore, to more idyllic pastorals.