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The poems in Studio Moon were written over the last fifteen years, and cover a wide range of styles and approaches: poems that are answers to other poets’ work, sometimes wrenched out of context (a version of Schiller’s ‘A Maiden from Afar’, for example, is set in a hamburger joint in Los Angeles), borrowings from Matthew Arnold and Barbara Guest, an ode, a three-page poem in sapphic stanzas, a computer-based pastiche, two deeply-felt elegies, two sestinas, four haibun, eight pantoums, and dozens of others, all imbued with Tranter’s trademark blend of wit, style and feeling.
John Tranter is an important writer in mid-career. He has published twenty-one books – four collections of work by others totalling over a thousand pages, and seventeen collections of his own writing, including Late Night Radio (Polygon, Edinburgh, 1998), Different Hands, a group of seven fiction pieces (Salt Publications, Cambridge, 1998), The Floor of Heaven, a book-length sequence of four interlinked verse narratives (Arc, UK, 2001), Heart Print (Salt Publications, Cambridge, 2001) and Borrowed Voices (Shoestring Press, Nottingham, 2002).
He compiled and edited (with Philip Mead) the Bloodaxe Book of Modern Australian Poetry. He is the publisher and editor of the much talked about literary quarterly Jacket, at jacketmagazine.com, which has received more than a third of a million visits from readers around the world.
‘… the new poems are exciting, and the result is a book that manages to be simultaneously powerful, entertaining and revealing. What Studio Moon gives us is a conspectus of one of Australia’s greatest poets in mid-career … As in Tranter’s work generally, there is energy aplenty. Tranter’s essential verbal gift, the core of his technique, is his ability to convey intensity through rhythm and sound …’ —Martin Duwell, Australian Book Review
‘Tranter’s poetry, despite its reputation for abstraction, has always turned to people’s lives for its raw material, no matter how freely they are eventually treated. At the same time, it has always had light and dark sides. The celebratory side has usually revolved around popular culture, and this is beautifully expressed in the first poem of this book, ‘After Hölderlin’, a poem that stands as a kind of epigraph to the collection. The speaker celebrates the books and films that rescued him from ‘the factory floor / or the office routine’: ‘These dreams were my teachers / and I learned the language of love / among the light and shadow / in the arms of the gods.’ Of course, this is not a simple celebration, and one can feel the tension between the souces of Hölderlin’s comfort – the gods – and Tranter’s. […]’ —Martin Duwell, Australian Book Review