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The Land's Other Meaning
Among a scarcity of good Western Australian poets, Randolph Stow (born Geraldton 1935, dec. Harwich 2010) stands head and shoulders above the rest. Nearing the end of a long low-key career, Ron Mallett (Fremantle, 1946) feels he can take some risks, too. The Land’s Other Meaning is a riff on Stow’s The Land’s Meaning, with a hard-eyed look at the central tragedy in Stow’s life, seen through the eyes of a character who might have stepped out of one of his novels. “It’s someone else who dies”.
Perhaps we can forgive Mallett his cynicism when we read his heart-felt (felt-in-the-heart) meditations on When a Woman Loves, and The Woman of Your Dreams. Or else for pure imagination there’s the Nightmare and The Parting of the Ways. Then down to Earth again for Imperial Soldier and Living with the Animals.
There’s a new kind of formalism here, speaking in plain and direct English, eschewing outmoded poetic inversions and tricks, but keeping alive the true depth and power of poetry.