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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 10, No. 7. June 11, 1947

Poetry 22 — a review

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Poetry 22

a review

"Poetry," the Australian International Quarterly of Verse, began appearing some years ago under the editorship of Mr. Flexmore Hudson. It was then unremarkable, both in appearance and in contents, being mainly filled with mediocre products of the Jindoworobak regional school of Australian verse. Sententious editorials were sometimes added in which the need for a national literature was stressed. Soon one fact about "Poetry" began to draw attention: its persistence in appearing, in' spite of lack of support, or echo, in spite of probable financial losses, and its editorial and managerial inefficiency. "Poetry" was soon known better abroad than any other, or better Australian magazine; it printed advertisements of the best English and American reviews, advertised in them by reciprocal agreement and haunted the bookstalls of the entire English-speaking world. Writers like Treece in England, Hervey in New Zealand, sent regular contributions which contrasted strangely with the rest of the contents.

Mr. Hudson was neither stimulated nor discouraged by a surrounding literary group—he lived, in fact, in the Australian outback where he taught school-children according to a new system which he with characteristic energy had entirely devised himself. Business brought him to town at intervals and so unsaleable issue after unsaleable issue flowed onto the market.

But recently the miracle occurred. Or perhaps one cannot give the name of miracle to something resulting from so much toil. Mr. Hudson, now apparently settled in Melbourne, has linked up with Clive Turnbull, whose pre-war attempts at a cultural magazine had been commendable but unsuccessful, and produced at least one issue of astonishing quality. Most of the contributors are now English and American. Of the 23 pages of poems printed more than half are of undoubted interest and some are equal to what is published anywhere in the world.

Nessie Dunsmuir (Scotland) wrote "The Night-Walking Men Taken Into the Dark," a poem that would be striking in any magazine. The subject is a coal-pit; it begins:

The pithead rises a lonely constellation over the mist-hung fields.

It carries on with sensitive poetic observations such as:

and his sight already traits for
the lampman's cabin slowly revolving
the tall tiered lamps in amber rows.

John Cicerdi's "Sea Burial" and Edouard Doditi's "The Villain's" are samples of the best that appears in American periodicals. Henry Treece appears in a very simple style:

Your face
Is serious, watching each tiny thing.
For life is such a duty to the young.

Clearly, however, these contributions, in spite of their excellence, hardly comprise a satisfactory Australian magazine; there is no harmony between the foreign and the Australian material. They are the fruit of considerable organisational talent, a certain accuracy in Judging contributors and an amazing persistence. The Australian contributions have become a minor part They are not very fortunate; the petulant exhibitionism of Harley Matthews, a released member of the Australia-First movement shows merely the posing of the life Impulse, so familiar from these quarters. Of the Jindoworobaks present, Roland E. Robinson shows more than usual sensitiveness, but still supplies journalism about "barbarous beauty" when he is excited.

Leonard Mann's "Test Flight" is both the most talented Australian poem present, and one of the best poems of that author so far.