The University of Newcastle, Australia

Landmark poetry anthology nears publication

Monday, 17 October 2016

Several UON poets, including Dr David Musgrave, feature in an upcoming anthology, Contemporary Australian Poetry, to be published by Puncher & Wattmann late this month.

The quality of Australian poetry has never been higher, nor the number of distinctive voices greater.

A landmark publication, this collection presents the astonishing achievements of Australian poetry during the last quarter of a century. Comprehensively researched, gathering over 200 poets and 500 poems, it makes the case for this country’s poetry as a broadening of the universal set for all English-speakers.

“Somewhat astonishingly,” the introduction notes, “and while no-one was looking, Australian poetry has developed a momentum and a critical mass such that it has become one more luminous field in the English-speaking imagination. Increasingly, anyone who seeks to explore the perspectives or music available in English will also have to consider the perspectives and music which have originated here — Australia having turned itself, too, into a place in the mind.”

Both survey and critical review, this anthology offers a rare opportunity to explore the unprecedented richness of an art form that collectively represents a major national achievement.

Over ten years in preparation, the anthology has been edited by four poets with an unrivalled exposure to the depth and variety of Australian poetry:

  • Martin Langford: editor of Harbour City Poems: Sydney in Verse 1788-2088, Deputy Chair of Australian Poetry Ltd, and poetry reviewer for Meanjin;
  • Judith Beveridge: lecturer in post-graduate poetry at Sydney University, and poetry editor of Meanjin from 2005-2015;
  • Judy Johnson: former lecturer in Creative Writing at UON and for ten years, Managing Editor of the Wagtail series for Picaro Press;
  • David Musgrave: publisher at Puncher and Wattmann, lecturer in Creative Writing UON and Board Member of Australian Poetry Ltd.

"It's a landmark publication," Musgrave asserts. "We're hoping to make a mark in the general cultural consciousness of the country, as we are claiming that this anthology makes it clear that Australian Poetry is a field worth taking as seriously as any other English language poetry."