Driv­ing in re­verse the only w

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books - Fiona Wright

DAVID Mus­grave caused some­thing of a stir re­cently when he pub­lished a six-word poem in The New Yorker ti­tled On The In­evitable De­cline Into Medi­ocrity of the Pop­u­lar Mu­si­cian Who At­tains a Com­fort­able Mid­dle Age. It’s a won­der­ful ti­tle, witty, mock-pompous and play­ful with ex­pec­ta­tions, with lan­guage and its pos­si­bil­i­ties. And these are char­ac­ter­is­tics of Mus­grave’s work that make his new col­lec­tion, Con­crete Tues­day, so en­joy­able.

Some of the most ef­fec­tive short po­ems in this vol­ume are those that show Mus­grave’s lin­guis­tic play­ful­ness to its full ad­van­tage. At times, this man­i­fests as a for­mal brash­ness and risk: in po­ems such as Nostal­gia Ad­dict, a sestina struc­tured around chal­leng­ing end­words in­clud­ing cra­dle, nee­dle, re­verses and cup­board. Else­where, Mus­grave takes a more sim­ple de­light in odd jux­ta­po­si­tions and col­lec­tions of found words. This is es­pe­cially funny in The Water in Ja­pan, which quotes slo­gans from ‘‘ a river of T-shirts’’ seen on a train, phrases such as ‘‘... see por­ridge?’’ These odd and strangely man­gled snatches of found lan­guage are brought into some kind of poignancy and res­o­nance within the poem.

But Mus­grave’s hu­mour is more of­ten sharply satir­i­cal, and es­pe­cially bit­ing when fo­cused on po­etry it­self, as well as its place within Australia. The largest se­quence in the book, The Poet’s House, is an imag­ined ac­count

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.