Titles by Philip Salom
Below are just a few of my titles. In fact, they are those books of mine still in print. Information about the style and writing of them can be found on the Books page.
For this page I have included blurbs and some reviews for each.
Puncher & Wattmann launch my most recent book. (Or they did in 2010.) This is the back page blurb:
Keepers is highly entertaining and serious; there are brilliant flashes and reflections, ironic observations and a lot of humour. The poems form stories and portraits of recognisable and unrecognisable people who teach and study in a School of Arts. You may know them: the intense, the terse, the drugged and the eccentric. Upstairs is the Health and Safety Novelist, and The Face, a Narcissistic academic; and down in the basement, in lower registers, Fish, the cleaner and print-room assistant, working away among the students - including Gillian the sculptor who is suddenly successful, Jess the writer who some have questioned. The ironic observations of Fish, flaneur and Go player, form a narrative underlying the poems. Interspersed throughout are figures from history: Balzac, Gentileschi, Shostakovich, Orlan, Klima... After the shadowy voices of The Well Mouth these poems by Salom have come up into the light.
P&W don't have an up-to-date website but the book is available through bookshops (being poetry you may have to order it) or through me, if you send a message through Contact on my Home Page.
An earlier book, a book much thought about ... then suddenly written.
'Sky Poems is a brilliant suite of poems which utilises a convention, part-Chagall and part-Superman, to present us to ourselves as we really are. It is Surrealism with an especially deft way of handling the 'real' ... His metaphor shows us what 'heightened' reality truly means.
There has been nothing quite like these poems in Australian poetry before... Sky Poems should be read by anyone who cares for scope and scale in poetry, and who enjoys language at full stretch.'
- Peter Porter
Sky Poems, Philip Salom's third collection of poetry, has opened out onto a new world - the Sky world - where reality is constantly being forged from the memories and experiences of its protagonists. Anything thought of in this world, anything desired, is instantly made real.
Here are people and their patterns of mind caught in poems of great intensity, eroticism and power.
Intellectually, emotionally, and linguistically adventurous, this is poetry that challenges yet remains accessible; it is forthright, passionate and deeply felt, yet disciplined and exceptionally well-crafted. It evidences a poet approaching the full pitch of his imagination and art.
New and Selected Poems
My first retrospective - New and Selected Poems - came out in 1998, which seems a long time ago now. The details are below:
A poet of tremendous energy and imaginative richness, Philip Salom's poetry has also been characterised by a vividly, sometimes fiercely sensuous responsiveness to landscapes, people and objects. This major selection from his seven previous books shows his great range and growth in stature from the physicality of the early rural poems, to the internationally acclaimed Sky Poems, and, most recently, the inventive and passionate affirmations of love in The Rome Air Naked. Finally, among his new poems, is the long-awaited inclusion of the moving 'Elegy for My Father', winner of the 1996 Newcastle Poetry Prize.
The Well Mouth
The Well Mouth is my recent collection and verse-novel of sorts. It has a narrative buried along with the voices that flow through it. There is even a crime theme! Here is the blurb:
This expansive new collection recalls Philip Salom's acclaimed Sky Poems and confirms his reputation as one of Australia's leading poets of imagination and narrative invention. As a book, The Well Mouth is both lyrical and sardonic, humorous and bare. Containing many individually brilliant poems, it accumulates into a work of real beauty and force.
At the bottom of an abandoned well, a woman murdered and dumped there by corrupt police dreams the voices of people who have died but do not yet know it. Deep underground, she is silent witness and narrator of their earth poems - as she drifts in artesian streams towards the coast. One by one the newly dead replace each other in her imagination - whistleblower, brothel madam, long distance driver, woman lost in the bush, old soldier - some registering in sharp focus, others in brief faltering grabs, jostling and blurring in the pressure to be heard. The Well Mouth is a work of powerful immersion in empathy and unexpectedness.
Toccata and Rain
Toccata and Rain is my second novel and includes a number of sonnets and ghazals in fairly free form. The narrative is third-person, but is interspersed with first-person poems from the mind of the book's divided protagonist Simon/Brian. Details:
Like a contemporary Rip Van Winkle, Simon awakes only to find he has been inventing another life. He lives where he has no memory of living. There are astonishing towers he has built of steel and broken ceramic in Sarah's Melbourne backyard.
He is a man caught between two very different versions of himself. Driven to understand what has been happening, Simon turns to hypnosis and film and to the woman who says she is his lover.
Toccata and Rain is built of fugues and fractured perceptions. It is a mysterious and erotically charged narrative of encounters and ambiguities within a forgotten life.
It is at once a virtuoso performance and a compelling read.
A Cretive Life
A Cretive Life began as a mis-print and became a two part variation on poetry, palimpsests and memory - especially of my parents' early farming life but then of the merging of realities through dream and memory. Blurb goes:
In these new poems Philip Salom writes with great intensity and memory of experience always close to discovery and loss. Working up from this is the value underlying the punning title of the collection - life accretes in these poems. Like the central sequence Preservation - which won the 2000 Newcastle Poetry Prize - the poems are sometimes serious, sometimes humorous, but act as reclamations and enact a preservation from within the space of the personal and cultural flux.
There are also the imaginative and inventive poems as palimpsest: poems which create ironic musings over the hexagrams of the I Ching, and over music and film. One group of poems revisits the rural experience of his father - and several poems move across the space of father-son - and how memory plays back the drama of our nearest worries and perceptions. But through this disciplined, exciting body of poems runs a major artery of affirmation.
My first novel.
Jack Biner, folklorist and gifted listener, imagines Windrup is just another country town. But soon he is entrusted with the vivid and often moving world of people's memories. His need to remain an impartial collector is shaken. He finds he must live through much more than his own dilemmas as he meets Mrs Bukowski, the moody landlady; Laura, the painter; her cagey husband; and the enigmatic Fisher...
Playback is a richly imaginative, playful and sensual work that explores history, repression, silence, love, and the power of art. And, finally, the elusive question, what is 'truth'?