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Trio is a 162-page omnibus collection of three books of poetry by leading Australian poet John Tranter published over a period of wide-ranging stylistic experiment in the 1970s.
Red Movie, John Tranter’s second book, published in 1972, reveals a break or shift in his approach to poetry. The first half of the book is made up of a series of moody imagistic landscapes and fragmentary portraits of people reminiscent at times of Robert Lowell, and a memoir of country and urban adolescence. The rhetoric is mainly romantic. The ten-page poem ‘Red Movie’ which concludes the book moves out into new territory. Its style, though lyrical, is mosaic, seeking its effects in the juxtaposition of bright and contradictory fragments. History, literature and personal experience are broken and reassembled into a patterned montage of words, an approach perhaps influenced by the authors’ course-work in linguistics, Gestalt theory and field theory for his academic degree in psychology.
Crying in Early Infancy (1977) is a collection of one hundred fourteen-line poems. Five are carefully rhymed sonnets, some are solemn, but most are loose and playful and some are exuberantly incoherent. Existentialism, Marxist theory, foreign movies, Hollywood, soft drugs, homosexuality, teenage angst, cool jazz: it all goes into the blender of Tranter’s art, and nothing is safe. It was the seventies, after all.
Dazed in the Ladies Lounge (1979).
Among a handful of alternately serious and light-hearted poems three longer works stand out: a study of the influence of Rimbaud, alternately grateful and scolding; a series of imaginary tableaux where five leading European intellectuals are forcibly replanted in an Australian context (Sartre at Surfers Paradise, for example); and Ode to Col Joye, a playful look at the author’s fellow-poets and his own cultural setting.