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Swinging between the “hysterically quiet’ of Australian towns and China’s commercialisation of Mao, between allegorical voyages and densities of affection, Dennis Haskell’s All the Time in the World provides explorations of the nature of truth and the meaning – if any – of human emotions. Language stands here in varying relations to the world, sometimes fragile, sometimes firm, in portraying a deep link between “the unsayable” and the ordinary.
Is love meaningless or utterly valuable? Are the meanings of human life discovered or made? Is identity rooted in place or flying about a globalised world? The book explores meanings underwritten by death, and pits a breadth of language against the values of a contemporary world dominated by the anonymity of money.
‘Whether imagining ‘hysterical phlegm’ in a bush town or England ‘passing away from us,’ Dennis Haskell’s voice is ironically elegiac. An Antipodean Larkin with good manners, Haskell is a new kind of Australian poet, a mile-sky-high traveler, speeding on trains, stepping over countries, a twenty-first century transnational whose poems feel their way into an ‘ordinariness’ he has set as his goal. A sharp observer of the itinerant – as he says of himself, ‘my eyes ... the children of my face’ – Haskell’s witty poems insistently quest for meaning in country, language, love, the lovely ordinary of his global ambit, and uncover it in slips of the tongue and slippery memories.’ —Shirley Geok-lin Lim
‘Agreeing that the resources of English ‘must be kept up’, Dennis Haskell in his new work creates a dialogue between modernist improvisation and the traditional pleasures of poetry. The result is a book that is full of verbal play and sparkle. But beyond that, as the finest poets do, he takes us out onto the depths of feeling.’ —Robert Gray