reading revival: a poetry book blog

reading revival is devoted to promoting australian poetry books and related discussion through reading one book - firstly, duty by geraldine mckenzie. i will choose a new book roughly every 3 months

Sunday, April 30, 2006

wrought is an interesting word to apply (see ryan review: 'wrought language'). the concise oxford says see 'work' - as in 'work on'.. make efforts, be a craftsman [sic], bring about an effect or influence eg work wonders, be in motion or agitated, hammer into shape, excite by degrees, advance gradually to climax .. it evokes the effort, the effect of reading, the sexuality of duty.

all comments go to my inbox - so its never too late to respond to a post or discussion - i will read it & respond

influence - it can mean several things. it can give a writer a new style - even a new vocabulary - or it can allow the writer to follow their own style more insistently, with more integrity after someone else's strong example.

i asked meckenzie to name some poets whose work might be preparation for her own. she didnt answer this exactly but named 4 poets who were important to her:

"poets - it's so long ago but i'm thinking now just of poets who matter one way or another to me - just a few - Paul Celan, Lorine Niedecker, George Oppen. Charles Bernstein too."

celan & bernstein have been mentioned already.. but what does such a list mean? they make the territory seem a little more familiar (knowing - to an extent - the four writers named). the names - as metonyms for their work - become metaphors for mckenzies poetry. it's like coming to a new country & calling it new bernstein. & tho this may make us feel more comfortable, there are obvious problems with such a naming. whether the writer herself inhabits new bernstein is one question; another is how the poetry or land itself feels about its new name.

Friday, April 28, 2006

cant afford the book? or just feeling proactive? maybe your local library would get it in for you (and others)?

this issue of reading revival will continue till mid-late june, so theres still plenty of time to jump on the boat (with your book).

'O throw me an orange/ anyone' ('counting coup') is one of my favourite poem endings ever (p 62).

it may seem i havent been posting the last couple of days - but ive been adding comments to the ryan review. stay glued for geoff page's canberra times review - coming soon.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

melbourne reader alert: four copies now on the shelf at collected works, level 1, 37 swanston st. retta - shop co-owner - said she was 'amazed' the book was selling because of the blog - she said she'd been skeptical at first ..

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

gig ryan has sent me her review of duty from the age.[the references to hill are to barry hill's the inland sea, reviewed at the same time.]

Duty, Geraldine McKenzie
review by Gig Ryan (The Age, 30.3.02)

Duty is Geraldine McKenzie’s anticipated first book. At 100 pages McKenzie shows little hesitancy for a ‘new’ poet and this is energetic experimental work, occasionally with some similarities to the late Robert Harris’s award-winning Jane, Interlinear. Sometimes though McKenzie’s excursions are both private and repetitive, boiling in a sort of romanticism of disorder, where inventive language seems a tic, a short cut. This paroxysm seems to leap out a little past midway through Duty. Like the various scopes used in medicine now, one gets a colourful view of an interior body part meaningless to any but a specialist in that part. As with Hill’s book, Duty also traces a love affair. Where Hill is often confessional and corrective, a little like Ted Hughes’s in Birthday Letters, McKenzie is less bound to actual matter than to intellectual analysis and reflection. She welcomes ambiguity while remaining sceptical of the result - “I don’t think poetry / can save us”. Her sonnets display a control of rhyming schemes and voices, many with an Elizabethan formality and playfulness. Although it is common now for poets to quote, or sample, their influences and predecessors, this can also be a way of evading imagination. McKenzie’s love of wrought language is at times unguided but more often it is her strength - “and the cut / as fresh as ever throttle clutch and / brake for no one as progress / its maw and might have been / silky persuasion in the manifest / and wished down river withered / in a word it was just love / unravelled retrospective rape”.

a library week presentation

reading revival
a blog devoted to the discussion of recent australian poetry

interested in contemporary australian poetry but not sure where to start?

started, but have no one to share your thoughts with?

writing poetry but not sure what's going on in local poetry publishing?

As part of library week blog founder & local superpoet [sic] Michael Farrell will be leading a reading discussion group at the St Kilda Library, focussing on Geraldine McKenzie’s Duty.

2pm May 27

…but you need to read the book and bring a copy with you!

Ask at the library

Or order through a bookshop. It retails at $24.95 and you would need to allow 10 days for them to get it in

Book a place now

St Kilda Library 150 Carlisle St St Kilda 92096650

Sunday, April 23, 2006

sometimes the meat of a blog is in the comments .. there are 4 new comments ..

Saturday, April 22, 2006

new poetry blog link added today: derek motion - it was his comment i responded to - see comments (3 - circa now) 'another thing this blog..' on 12/4

i spoke to geraldine mckenzie in sydney (the city that needs no hyperlink) & theres a chance she may come to melbourne for a reading - stay glued .. (ok i left my copy of duty behind & access aside felt finger-tied)

bookshops welcome to post details of stock of duty here - or anywhere..

this post isnt to say anything - i said it all in my comments - responding to a comment - see 'another thing this blog is leading ' on 12/4 - i think im handling my material klutzily - ? - that word always reminds me of charles bernsteins poem 'the klupzy girl'.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

dates confirmed for 2 perth reading groups

poetry book group 1: wednesday september 6 at the bakery, northbridge, geraldine mckenzie's duty 2 pm

poetry book group 2: friday september 8 at the bakery, northbridge, book to be advised, 2 pm

the second group will discuss the next reading revival choice, to be announced in late june

to register email reading revival at gmail dot com

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

visitor stats set at 0 from 12.4.06. no visitors from before then recorded. (my cousin says im being 'too catholic today'.)

another thing this blog is leading people to is a practice of ordering books in shops or online .. because if you rely on shelves for poetry you wont see a lot of great stuff

Sunday, April 09, 2006

interested in mckenzies own critical style? see this example from the excellent

for those who read duty when it came out, note any second impressions here

Saturday, April 08, 2006

more about influence ... mckenzie reminds me of truffaut (ive been watching the last metro) in her dramatic intensity and unpulled punches. but i dont want to suggest mckenzie is just a tissue - not even a strong tissue - of influences. words may not be orginal - may suggest the fold, where theyve been before.. - but what we bring to writing those words - the force is its own thing: mckenzie is herself; duty is itself.

Friday, April 07, 2006

a poetry more concerned with the word as material is perhaps apt for the contest with the material(ist) world.

language poetry - its attention to the word - seems to be a natural movement in an age becoming digital. and now post-digitality is affecting analogue forms of art (painting s by vija celmins (see 21:art the sbs doco) or ross bleckner (see the excellent 'modern art in the common culture' by thomas crow). but their work reminds me as much of the supposedly highlanguage poets susan howe (cited by leves) and lyn hejinian as that of a younger generation (sounds like i know a whole generation ... i know bits. their work could be read as already postlanguage (i mean post language poetry not a poetry that is post language) - but what am i implying? im not implying so much as withholding an unexamined assumption that the postlanguage poem would be a return to a more humanist poetic (and perhaps celmins and bleckner are just postmodern - yet i think theres some analogy to be drawn). howe/hejinian may shudder at such a description - they may not - but there is a stronger sense of the personal political in their work (howe's use of historical material is a personalising one) than their male counterparts (bernstein, perelman, andrews). this could be said of poetry as a whole - though im sure thered be also sorts of complications and exceptions - there always are - but im not sure that this generalisation is true of the surrealists. the male surrealists seem more sentimental than the female.. mckenzie isnt sentimental - nor particularly surrealist - though perhaps theres something of aragon in the un/forced digital erotics of 'Using it'/'excorcising'/'More'(pp 63-69).

the influence of language poetry begins leves' review - presumably from overland - of duty. he veers from this into european culture/history. the presence of charles bernstein - influential language writer (poetry and essays) - on the back cover - his blurb is on the homepage too - clues us in before we start. but clues us in to what? there's a tradition of criticising Australian poets in taking from (contributing to) northern hemisphere literary movements - as if we're all meant to read the same things (leves doesnt do this by the way). surrealism gave something to many poets writing now. they're not usually taken to be surrealists, dont take themselves as surrealists. the fact of the incredible variety and progress in the work of just the most well-known language writers is one for another time, and probably place (im not being controlling here - comment if u want - just bringing it back to duty...). duty could be described as a post-language work, as could much of the work of poets of her generation in the u.s. - of a certain stripe, or openness - as it could of those here. are there any language poets in australia? im sure ive read the implication there shouldnt be. does a poem make a poet or vice versa?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

be the first to review duty for scroll down to customer reviews.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

first reading revival reading group has been scheduled for saturday may 27 at 2pm at st kilda library, carlisle st, st kilda. it is part of a library activities week. free to attend but please read duty before meeting. also please let me know via email if you wish to attend, so i can have an idea of numbers.

Monday, April 03, 2006

write your experience of ordering or buying duty here: how long it took, problems, bookshop response ..

add comments re your first impression of duty here

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