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This is a wide-ranging, incisive study of contemporary poetry, its predicament and its rich traditions. While it focusses on Australian cultural conditions, it sees them in terms of the English-language ecumene, for example setting an Irish poet beside an Australian, and ranging from Keats, as our strong forebear, to the modern Polish poet Zagajewsky. In this book, Wallace-Crabbe examines the role of poetic discourse in the face of both popular and high cultures. He also asks what remains for us of the sacred, that wizened category of attention. Among his Australian protagonists are A.D. Hope, the Mallarméan John Forbes, and the painter, Sidney Nolan, whose images of the bushranger Ned Kelly have become powerfully iconic. These critical essays are coloured both by the abiding traditions of a formative landscape and by the postmodern city, with its dwindled, acerbic gaze. They should seize the attention of anyone concerned with the fate of poetry in a PlayStation age.
‘If poems were the visions of certified saints, or even extracts from the notebooks of Vlad the Impaler, we would not need assessors like Chris Wallace-Crabbe to help us appreciate them. As it is, we still need a sure guide through the entanglement of contemporary verse. This collection of essays surveys world poetry today along a line from Hermeticism to the Vox Populi. The sheer sense of Wallace-Crabbe’s assessments is enriched by his continuous originality of view. D.H. Lawrence said “trust the art, not the artist”, but there are some artist-commentators you can always rely on. Read Wallace-Crabbe and then read him again and you’ll discover why poetry matters and poets keep on writing.’ —Peter Porter
‘In Read it Again – with its worldly essays on poetry, art and Australia – everything comes up rich. Chris Wallace-Crabbe’s sparkling criticism ranges from Dante’s exile and Keats’s puns to Sidney Nolan’s bushranger and John Forbes’s syntax. This is writing marvelously open to the multiplicity of things, to ‘the ache and zest of language’.’ —David McCooey
‘Read It Again establishes Wallace-Crabbe’s position as a major cultural commentator; the book demands to be read again and again. Not surprisingly, its main focus is on poetry, and in particular on the ways in which poets use language. Hardly a new subject? No: but what is new and refreshing about some of these essays on language is the incisiveness of their analysis; the distinction made in the first essay between ‘wisdom’ and ‘mimesis’ is one of many illuminations. The reader is often given fresh insights and encouraged to make new connections as the argument moves from Derrida to Davie, from Bachelard to Buckley, Hope to Heaney, Heaney to Porter.’ —Greg Kratzmann, Australian Book Review