Poetry Journal

Issues / Volume 5 Issue 1 , July 2015



Michael Sharkey

If this issue has any theme, it could well be ‘generosity’, in light of several felicitous occurrences during planning.

First came the sponsorship by a Sydney poet, who wishes to maintain anonymous, of an annual ‘great poem’ that has appeared in the previous year’s issues of the Journal. The sponsor of this award has been long associated with small poetry presses and little magazines, and continues to handsomely support other poetry publications. As a result of his offer, each year we will award a poem from the previous year’s issues a prize of $250 and reprint the poem, along with remarks by judge and poet. The award for 2014, nominated by the donor in consultation with the editor, goes to Ali Jane Smith’s poem ‘Another Literary Life’.

Generosity is revealed also in our review essays profiling two small presses, Black Pepper and Ginninderra. The enviable reputation of Black Pepper Press is a result of care with production and promotion, by the poet Kevin Pearson and his partner Gail Hannah, of books carefully selected for their high aesthetic and, it must be said, commercial appeal. Margaret Bradstock outlines Black Pepper’s brave beginning and subsequent successes, at the same time surveying appreciative reviews of some notable recent titles.

Ginninderra Press has provided a more extensive platform for mostly new poets, as well as many whose reputations are well established. Some poets have appeared as authors more than once in the catalogue of nearly two hundred books the press has brought into being. Often thought of as verging on vanity press status, Ginninderra’s record, in Tasmanian poet Tim Thorne’s account, belies that assumption. The ongoing production testifies to its founders’ and its current editor’s enthusiasm for and support of poetry. One could expend one’s energies in a host of other ways besides poetry publishing.

Melbourne poet and philosopher N.N. Trakakis, whose work as an anthologist also typifies the spirit that lies behind promotion of others’ work, carries forward our exploration of the work of Australian poet-translators with his account of a literary love affair with the work of Kazantzakis and his ensuing engagement with that of Tasos Leivaditis. Some readers might be surprised that the editor of the groundbreaking 2011 anthology Southern Sun, Aegean Light: Poetry by Second-Generation Greek-Australians, which finds space for several dozen poets of such varied experience and poetic practice as Komninos Zervos, Christos Galiotos, Koraly Dimitriadis, Rachael Petridis, Anna Couani and Zeni Giles, might reveal such depth of response to another poet as he does in his essay on the evolution of the poetry and values of the politically committed and existentially questing Leivaditis, one of the unacknowledged greats of Modern Greek literature.

These features aside, this issue contains interviews with Queensland poet Sam Wagan Watson and Sydney poet Julie Chevalier, as well as reviews of Ania Walwicz and three notable contemporaries. As usual, we offer an extensive budget of poems submitted from writers including, in one or two cases, the poets’ first appearance in print.

As always, I wish you provocative and rewarding reading.