Thursday, 22 November 2018

Book review: Rondo, Chris Wallace-Crabbe (2018)

This collection of verse didn’t manage to keep me interested to the end. I finished reading at about 40 percent of the way through. The poetry is uninteresting in a curious way: the imagery is accurate and sometimes effective but the ideas that animate the poems are uninspiring and pedestrian, as though the person whose mind was animating the enterprise were just a suburban nobody instead of an eminent poet. There’s a lot going on here and you can sense a certain efficiency in the expression but there’s not much actual poetry in evidence.

Wallace Crabbe has been doing this kind of thing for a long time and I remember reading his poems when I was younger. I believe I have one of his early collections in my library. He has a reputation in Australia as a competent practitioner but I was disappointed with this book. Where he uses rhyme things come alive, although some of the rhymes are a bit facile, but the long poem about the life of Jesus is just awful. In general, I was not drawn to complete the book because the quality of the whole is very low, which is a sign that the culture of criticism in this country is not adequate for the purpose of sustaining good, inspiring work.

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