Category Archives: Literature Reviews

Home is the First and Final Poem (Review 31)

Review 31 is an online journal founded in 2011. Since then, it has gained recognition for hosting intelligent reviews of nonfiction, literary fiction, and poetry. Recently, Review 31 published my review of Les Murray’s On Bunyah (Carcanet, 2016). The article aims to create a full and coherent picture of Murray’s childhood home and his poetic responses to place.

“The rural home of poet, editor, and critic Les Murray lies around three hundred kilometres north-east of Sydney, Australia. The area known as Bunyah – a native word meaning ‘bark’ – is a hilly landscape with dense forests, expansive paddocks and farmland. Bunyah Creek, which becomes the Wang Wauk River before reaching the Pacific Ocean, cuts across this landscape and sources many of the sandy lakes characteristic of the area. The place Murray calls his ‘spirit country’ is unquestionably ‘the bush’: an area wild, undeveloped, remote, and isolated – only one gravel road runs from the Pacific Highway to Bunyah. The 82 poems and 29 photographs collected in On Bunyah give readers special access to this isolated area and makes clear its biographical and historical significances. The collection, made up of a selection of poems spanning Murray’s entire career, reveals just how Bunyah has provided the poet with the essential material of his verse for over 50 years. While On Bunyah does confirm what Murray writes in ‘Home Suite’ (originally published in 1992’s Translations from the Natural World) – ‘Home is the first / and final poem / and every poem between / has this mum home seam’ – it also does these poems an immense disservice: it presents them in a manner too careless to be worthy of their particular expressiveness and craft.”

You can find the article here.


Header Image: Les Murray’s first childhood home. via ABC.net.au news

An Enclosure Not of Imprisonment (Review 31)

Review 31 is an online journal founded in 2011. Since then, it has gained recognition for hosting intelligent reviews of nonfiction, literary fiction, and poetry. Recently, Review 31 published my review of Alex Wong’s Poems without Irony (Carcanet, 2016). The article navigates the difficulties of Wong’s first collection by focusing on the formal aspects of its poems and considering its moral demands on the reader.

“…though the collection does not gratify, explain, or solve, it does ultimately ‘respect’. Poems without Irony never devalues its readers; its poems rarely speak from the perspective of someone who has ‘something to say.’ The poet does not treat his readers as unlearned, unwise, or – as is common in much contemporary literature – either entertainment-hungry or coldly academic. Instead, Wong tries his best to give himself up to the disinterested (but complex) zone of art and culture. Though labyrinthine, this zone of art is a possible site for ‘humane’ interaction: a real sympathy or even empathy between writer and reader. To fail to return the efforts of the poet (so clear in his poetry), then, seems like a moral misstep.”

You can find the article here.


Header Image: The cover of Poems without Irony (2016) by Alex Wong via Carcanet

Under The Magnifying Glass (Oxonian Review)

The Oxonian Review is a humanities journal run by graduate students at the University of Oxford. In their most recent issue (32.1), they featured my literature review of Anne Toner’s Ellipsis in English Literature: Signs of Omission (2015). The article considers the benefits of detail-oriented literary scholarship and navigates the history of the ellipsis in English literature.

You can find the article here.


Header Image: Maurice Kyffin’s translation of Terence’s Andria (1588) via Cam Research

Rooting Rastafari (Oxonian Review)

The Oxonian Review is a humanities journal run by graduate students at the University of Oxford. In their most recent issue (31.2), they featured my literature review of Darren J.N. Middleton’s Rastafari and the Arts: An Introduction (2015). The article considers the commercialization of Rastafari and its implications on Rastafari’s socio-political, theological, and material dimensions.

You can find the article here.

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Errata:

(1) In paragraph three, “levity” should read “livity”

(2) In paragraph four, “Ghanian” should read “Ghanaian”

(3) In paragraph eight and nine, “Edmunds” should read “Edmonds”


Header Image: Rockers (1978) dir. Ted Bafaloukos. via moviery.com