Publication Date
Publication Status
Out of print
Poetry by individual poets
Trim Size
216 x 140mm

Rooms and Sequences


Mike Ladd is the best-kept secret in Australian poetry. It’s not that he’s not well known; he is. It’s more that few fully appreciate his range and uniqueness as a poet living both in the Australian mindscape, and distinctly outside it. His sequence “Ninety-One Hotel Rooms” shows the consolidations of the wanderer, the merging of the familiar (a room is a room is a room), with change and cultural shift. The mediating voice of self is always there, but also under pressure. He is a poet formally on edge, seeking to bring order to disorder, and disorder to the polite management of any poem. It is not surprising to find he was in a punk band in his early days, and that he's a radio producer these days. Ladd is an iconoclast and icon maker all at once. The treasure among treasures in the diverse and pluralistic collection is the “Anakhronismos” sequence, which would have to stand as one of the most individual and challenging sequences in Australian poetry. It’s like a convergence of Lehmann, Beaver, and even Laurie Duggan's “Epigrams of Martial”. And then there’s that classic, “3 Studies of a Rotary Hoist”, de rigueur for anyone trying to unpick Australian nationalism, parochialism, and a concomitant sense of irony. Ladd is a larrikin and a poetry tactician. Experimental, formal, multi-voiced. And often in the same poem. A book of the year.

Reviews of this Book

‘“Aponius Maso lived in the first century AD, a time when the Roman Empire was at its height and it southern boundary extended as far as South Australia.” Now there’s an opening sentence to grab attention. The rest of the introduction to Mike Ladd’s sequence of “translations” of Maso’s poems, Anakhronismos, is equally spooky. As are the hilarious Borgesian footnotes which follow the sequence. The poems are dedicated to the poet and classicist John Bray, who would have been proud of their sharp, astringently epigrammatic qualities, which owe something to both Martial and Catullus, with perhaps a little extra salt from Juvenal.’ —Peter Goldsworthy, The Adelaide Review

‘In Rooms and Sequences Mike Ladd’s charm is often satiric, whether he is confecting a colony of the Roman Empire, fables on animals and birds, or an ode to “a rotary hoist”. Ladd produces the excellent ABC program PoeticA, lives in Adelaide, and his landscapes earthily exude its heat.’ —Barry Hill, The Weekend Australian

‘The real highlight of Rooms and Sequences is a sort of adult fairytale-cum-fable entitled “The Bird in the Park.” This is such a delicate and finely balanced piece of writing that an extended description would risk breaking its spell. Briefly, the story concerns a talking seabird – a messenger – which comes into the life of a single, middle-aged man. (One immediately thinks of Coleridge's albatross, but, with the words “Don't fall for clichés”, the bird is quick to refute that comparison.) Ladd writes with tender sophistication and universal reach to create what is – despite appearances – a genuine poem. An ideal syllabus work, “The Bird in the Park” should be compulsory reading for anyone who has lived alone.’ —Oliver Dennis, Island

‘When you take home this collection you take home a tough yet loving critique of contemporary life, where masculinity is put through its paces and is caressed through the lens of a man looking to the past for a way to understand his meaning as a man living in the 21st century. The suburbs of Rome become the suburbs of our cities, and Ladd explores these through the lone eye of a traveller seeking a home. This is a poet who criticises corruption, complacency and apathy. A man who rages against the “fat men on couches” and who craves the ethical ideal, the uncorrupted scene and the day-to-day potential to live well in a world trying hard to suffocate imagination and freedom.’ —Jayne Fenton Keane, Five Bells

‘Mike Ladd’s 148 page collection of poetry and prose is an aesthetically pleasing Salt publication, drawing attention to the work of a highly individual and persuasive mind. Stand out pieces, for me at least, are the prose piece “The Bird in the Park” and the opening poetry sequence “Anakhronismos”. “The Bird in the Park” combines exceptional narrative skills with a delight in history, philosophy and cultural phenomena.’ —Ralph Wessman, Famous Reporter