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This book collects all the poems published by Andrew Taylor since his first book appeared in 1971, together with a substantial section of new work, and confirms him as one of Australia's most original and individual poets. The poems range through explorations of personal and family relationships, encounters with a wide variety of landscapes and cultures, and social and political issues. A strong sense of mortality is balanced by a delight in the details of the physical world, a fascination with everyday objects, and a belief in the regenerative power of love. Poems for children and aging or dying parents explore the hopes and possibilities of the future for the young, and the significance of a lived life for the old and those who survive them. This poetry is firmly located in the physical world, often in specific landscapes and places, ranging from the coastlines of southern and western Australia to numerous places in Europe and the USA where the poet has lived. Although many of the poems are short and meditative-lyrical, there are also several extended sequences, including one of book length written during the absence abroad of the poet's wife. Other sequences explore this relationship within a variety of geographical and historical contexts, and the importance of the beach, the coast and significance of living on an island-continent for the poet's youth and middle age. Both the physicality and the ephemerality of the physical world are given meaning and illumination by the lives lived within it, in a language that is lively and confident, yet also aware of how the richness of the world inevitably evades its grasp.
‘Andrew Taylor has a determinedly independent mind and poetic voice. He is one of the champions of his generation, and has opened paths for many Australian poets in a subtle but distinct way. A poet of world stature, he is never done with varying tone and style, and is willing to take a look anywhere that language is brewing.’ —John Kinsella
‘What I like about Andrew Taylor’s poetry is the range of reference and subject matter: from the Middle Ages to Middle America, from the Renaissance to rock’n’roll, from our most primitive urges to our most civilised cultural accomplishments. There’s a lifetime of learning behind every phrase, and at the same time a patient focus on ordinary human beings just getting through the day as best they can.’ —John Tranter
‘Andrew Taylor’s poetry is both richly Australian and suffused with knowledge and love of the wider world. His is not Home Verse nor Travel Verse, but Universal Verse – a lifetime’s achievement of technically adroit and sharply human utterance.’ —Peter Porter
‘[The Collected Poems] is a book that will live with me for months and years to come. Every time I open it to read, I find new pleasures. Taylor is a quiet poet, fastidious and precise, but this does not preclude a very wide tonal range and the deployment of a keen intelligence and wit in poetry that dazzles with its formal variety. The breadth of subject-matter is astonishing ...Taylor is a distinctively Australian poet, yet he effortlessly encompasses the wider world. He is at home in Europe and America, and is a sensitive explorer of those cultures in relation to Australia ... It is, of course, impossible to illustrate the richness of this book via a single poem. Suffice it to say that here is a massive contribution to the cultural hoard.’ —Adrian Caesar, Westerly
‘Taylor’s poems ... show a cool intelligence that is modest, tolerant: caught in moments of utterance, searching for and playing with significance and attuned to their own provisionality. The ‘voice’ is speculative, emotional, formally inventive, both international and regional.’ —David Gilbey, Australian Book Review