Saturday, October 28, 2006


rob walker's Micromacro

rob walker, Micromacro (West Lakes, SA : Seaview Press, 2006) ISBN 978-174008-415-4.

Sometimes, it is difficult to start a review. The poems may be good, they may vary, but it may also be hard to find an angle into a collection, to talk about them passionately yet with a balanced outlook. You could say that you like a collection. As I do with rob walker's Micromacro. But there will come some caveat, perhaps.

I have one such caveat. The poems are, simply, uneven. Where they work, they demonstrate a clear voice, and a sensibility that is a token of rob's presence. He demonstrates, in such poems as "Love at the Physio" and "Slater", a clear sense of who is is what his poems are. He is, simply, a good, enjoyable poet. But his weaker poems, though technically not too dissimilar, read as poems that have appeared time and again. They fail to capture that voice: "Cut up/Rearrange", for example, aims at wit, but it is, ultimately, a tired wit. "Catsyntax" attempts to convey the sense of another life's thoughts, but it reminds us, too obviously, of Murray's more successful "Translations from the Natural World" sequence. We have seen these experiments before, and they lose their vividness and uniqueness as a result.

There is a Biblical verse, which runs along the line of "there is nothing new under the sun." And it is effectively right for the most part. But Micromacro, at its best, reminds us that, although we may have read similar poems (similar technically at least), they are unique here, now. What rob walker achieves is a sense of the contemporary, in his best work, and a sense of where and what the world contains for us. He enables us to see our world in his own way when he works at his best.

Micromacro does this by concentrating in large part upon the external world. "Slater", which I've already mentioned, is one such example. The line "rolypoly armadillo armies" works so well. Aside from the phonic level, with its combination of rhyme, assonance, alliteration and consonance, its metaphoric equivalence of the slaters to the largr, more overt armadillos is an organic metaphor that seizes at the imagination. We approach the microscopic, the detritus-dwelling insects, for example, through the macroscopic.

And this relationship, between what is greater and what is smaller, helps inform Micromacro and its wider themes (as should be evident from the title itself). It helps unify the book into a coherent collection, although such a coherency is hampered by the unevenness of the poems' quality. Yet, although Micromacro is a flawed book, in this regard, it is nonetheless an enjoyable and rewarding work. rob walker demonstrates clear promise here, and it is to be hoped that he continues writing. He has ability and Micromacro is proof of this. At the very least, obtain a copy, read it, and consider it. rob, like many other poets, deserves this chance to open up our world to us, and he does this with his best poems in this collection.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Society of Women Writers Victoria Biennial Literary Seminar

Society of Women Writers Victoria Biennial Literary Seminar: inspiration for writers.

Date 10-12 November 2006
Brahma Kumaris Centre Frankston South.

Bookings must be made by the end of October.

Enquiries: (03) 9427 7579

Monday, October 09, 2006


An hour of Poetry!

Calling all poets and lovers of poetry.

You are cordially invited to come and meet poet and novelist Magdalena Ball, who will read from her latest book Quark Soup and talk about the art and relevance of modern poetry.

“These poems require a kind of mental ferocity that knows no compromise, a reaching for the very top, comparable in spirit to the early works of Picasso.” Egon H.E. Lass,

* Network with fellow poets and writers
* Take part in the question and answer session
* Enjoy yourself
* Spaces are limited and prebookings essential

Phone: (02) 4973 1248

11th October 2006, 10:00am
Morisset Public Library, 39 Yambo Street, Morisset

For more information on Quark Soup visit:

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Quark Soup (review) by Magdalena Ball

Magdalena Ball, Quark Soup (Warners Bay, NSW : Picaro Press, 2006) ISBN 1-920957-23-5 $7.

Science is not immiscible with poetry. Ms Ball reminds of this in many of the poems in Quark Soup. Throughout this chapbook, imagery of physics and astrophysics combine with poetic skill to create a memorable introduction to a young poet's career. And the result is well worth a further acquaintance.

This collection of twenty-seven poems starts well, with "Whorl". Here, the confluence of the themes of humanity, or life, and space combine. This is evident in the lines

The whorl
where superfine hair grows
like one of those spiral galaxies

for example. The scientific themes and imagery continue: there is quantum physics, "Quantum Quirk", the moon and planetary bodies ("Moon Fountains" and "Venus Returns", and "Planet X") among other scientific imagery. One such poem that has a haunting effectiveness is "Aurora", whose following lines feel impressed into my skin:

The glowing red, green and purple curtain of light
waved above you like the God of your dreams
benevolent, present,
anything but impersonal.

As a result, Quark Soup works best with this scientific vision, albeit one broad enough to encompass biology and astrophysics. Those poems that work least well eschew this vision, and, unfortunately, work against the chapbook's unity. Thin collections of poetry, such as Quark Soup, rely on that unity of focus. That it hasn't been maintained here works against the collection as a whole.

Despite that, there is enough here worth a reader's interest. If Quark Soup is a flawed collection, it is not too flawed. The best poems reveal much about Ms Ball's qualities as a poet. She is well worth further acquaintanceship, and Quark Soup is an excellent introduction. It would be heartening to see further evidence of Ms Ball's abilities as a poet. As she works towards a full-length collection, and even beyond, it is worth your time to maintain an eye on her career. She holds promise; Quark Soup is evidence of this.

Quark Soup can be purchased here:

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