Martin Harrison

Rating: 4.33
Rating: 4.33

Martin Harrison Biography

Martin Harrison (born in 1949) is an Australian poet.

He published poems and limited edition books in London and New Zealand before his first main collection, The Distribution of Voice (University of Queensland Press),appeared in Australia in 1993. In the 80s Harrison worked as a literary journalist and reviewer as well as a producer for ABC Radio, where he was closely associated with sound art, new music and experimental radio work. His 1997 poetry collection, The Kangaroo Farm (Paperbark Press) was shortlisted for the Victorian Premiers Award, and his 2001 collection Summer (Paperbark Press) won the Wesley Michel Wright Award for poetry. A selected poems, Wild Bees (University of Western Australia Press) was shortlisted for both the South Australian Premiers Awards and the ACT Poetry Prize.

Harrison has written extensively about Australian poetry. Some of his essays are collected in the internationally acclaimed volume "Who Wants to Create Australia?" (Halstead Press). This book was a Times Literary Supplement book of the year selection for 2004.

His poetry has been translated into Mandarin (A Kangaroo Farm trans Shaoyang Zhang, Jiangsu, Nanjing 2008) and into French.

There is a wide range of critical commentary on his work, principally in Australian and some UK journals. In the main, these views focus either on the detailed micro-perceptual approach to environment and natural phenomena in his work or on the self-reflective, time filled nature of selfhood in his work or they focus, more directly, on the metaphysical nature of many of the poems. British critic David Morley has defined Harrison as the writer of "some of the most brilliant metaphysical nature poems of our time." Michael Farrell, however, considers the subjective side of his work in the preface to the Out of the Box anthology (Puncher and Wattmann, Sydney 2009) describing his poetry as about selfhood caught in the process of learning, in which "learning the self and world are in alternation."[citation needed] Nigel Wheale captures a similar sense, reviewing The Kangaroo Farm in the London Review of Books (20:19, 1998), describing the poems as attempts to create "livable locales" and a form of pursuit for places where, in Wheale's words, "ordinary happiness might reside."

The Best Poem Of Martin Harrison


That half-open amber eye fixed on you,
the woman in the kitchen half turning to you —
drowsy tonight, you take in the angles
of chairs, walls, old photos, a painted vase.

There, a heron’s stillness helps it vanish,
wading by a wind-flecked lake.
Outside, car-noise glistening after early rain.
Night’s silence builds its inner ear.

So birds croak from a cracked, green bush,
the mouth’s distortion roars into an amulet,
but nothing distinguishes each memory,
solidified into a white-domed zone:

a set of blocks along a slope, a fossil trace,
kitchen clatter acquires a blinder shape.
Its time is ridged like wind-blown sea.
Suddenly lit up, cat's-eyes down a moonless road.

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