October 2011

Arts & Letters

Poetry masterpiece

By Lisa Gorton
Jennifer Maiden - ‘Friendly Fire’, 2005

Jennifer Maiden’s fourteenth poetry collection is a masterpiece in the original sense of that word: fantastical, intelligent, unassuming and conversational, it gives full expression to her talent. In this collection, there are few borrowed or conventional elements; to a remarkable degree, the style of these poems expresses her particular vision.

Maiden takes imaginative possession of all that presents itself – on TV, at home, in the news, out the window. Her poems zigzag from public events to small happenings: from George W Bush to the sight of clouds over the Monaro. In this way, her poems suggest how what we might describe as important finds its place in the everyday, haphazard and provisional. They test how we allocate pity, for instance, to some categories of experience and not others.

Friendly Fire is remarkable for its independence and for its approach to form – taken not as a technical exercise or traditional achievement, but as a shaping principle of thought. There aren’t many poets who bring together poetry’s lyric, confessional and satirical modes as deftly as Maiden. Her ambition is not to be impressive but to be true.

—Lisa Gorton

 

from ‘Reflected Hearth at Bowen Mountain’

                        … The primary colours
of someone’s neighbouring TV
dance in an upstairs pane, vast glass
where worlds juxtapose unmoved.
                        If I lean forward
I am in the window, but the fireplace
with its stove and chimney dominates
as if the outside bush were made to frame it,
not just its reflection.             The tree boles
lean on the wind fully-charactered
like those by a river, like firewood
in this fire.             The sky is not grey but
colourless-cold and vibrant-cold with power …

Cover: October 2011

October 2011

From the front page

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg

Cold comfort

The Morrison government gave us a recession we didn’t have to have

What elitism looks like

Flagrant conflicts of interest abound at the top

Image of Guy Sebastian and Prime Minister Scott Morrison, June, 2020

And now for something completely indifferent

The Morrison government is yet to fully realise that sidelining the arts hurts the economy

Image of Anne Ferran, Scenes on the Death of Nature I, 1986

‘Know My Name’ at the National Gallery of Australia

An exhilarating exhibition considers a persistent gender bias in the visual arts


In This Issue

Scene from 'The Theft of Sita'. Image courtesy of Melbourne Festival.

Music theatre masterpiece

An Australian–Indonesian production - ‘The Theft of Sita’, 2000

Words: Shane Maloney | Illustration: Chris Grosz

Robert Helpmann & Anna Pavlova

Theatre masterpiece

Tom Wright & Benedict Andrews - ‘The War of the Roses’, 2009

The incendiary Meow Meow, 2011. © Magnus Hastings

Queen of the night

Meeting Meow Meow


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Dividing the Tasman: ‘Empire and the Making of Native Title’

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Shirley Hazzard’s wider world

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Citizen plain: ‘Mank’

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More in Masterpieces

© Sergio Dionisio/Getty Images

Design masterpiece

Marc Newson - ‘Qantas A380 Economy Seat’, 2008

Fiction masterpiece

JM Coetzee - ‘Summertime’, 2009

© Chris Harvey

Architecture masterpiece

Lindsay & Kerry Clare - ‘Gallery of Modern Art’, Queensland, 2006

Opera masterpiece

Neil Armfield - ‘Peter Grimes’, 2009


Read on

What elitism looks like

Flagrant conflicts of interest abound at the top

Image of Anne Ferran, Scenes on the Death of Nature I, 1986

‘Know My Name’ at the National Gallery of Australia

An exhilarating exhibition considers a persistent gender bias in the visual arts

Image of Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Morrison’s climate flip

Australia has a lot of catching up to do on emissions reduction

Image of album artwork for Brazen Hussies soundtrack

Song sisters

The soundtrack to documentary ‘Brazen Hussies’ shows a breadth of feeling about women’s liberation in Australia


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