Late last year, ths Sydney Morning Herald reported here that:
Hugh Lunn, an award-winning journalist and author, has collected Australia's ''lost language'' - the vernacular that is dying with our older generations - in his best-selling book Lost for Words and its sequel, Words Fail Me.
Now he is preparing to sue the magazine The Monthly for a savage review of the new book by Peter Conrad, an expat Australian writer who left Tasmania in 1968 and teaches at Oxford University....
Conrad wrote in last month's issue that Lunn, a Queenslander, ''has taken on the persona of a philologic Pauline Hanson'', ''fantasises about an Australia hunched inside its rabbit-proof fence'' and ''is leading a peasants' revolt against multiculturalism and its dilution of Australian integrity''.
He wrote: ''I realised that what delights his fans in the superannuated suburbs is [Lunn's] praise for a time that was blinkered and bigoted, impoverished both economically and linguistically, when Australians spoke their own idiosyncratic language because in their empty, distant continent they were unreachably isolated from the global conversation.'' Lunn and his publisher, ABC Books, wrote to Ben Naparstek, the editor of The Monthly, requesting an apology and removal of the review from the magazine's website. Naparstek refused but has published a letter from Lunn in the latest
Lunn told the Herald ''legal action is in train'' for Conrad's ''defamatory assault''...
It's not quite in this spirit that I announce that the first reviews for my 2010 poetry book Gil Scott Heron is on Parole have now been pubished over at Crikey and at Overland. At the risk of defending my work at all odds like this writer did against this blog review, and at the risk of 'reviewing the review', both reviewers might have mentioned that I am a young, black West Indian Australian woman writing political poetry in a culture of white Australian middle class male poets writing mostly personal poetry.
On the other hand, it is a rare and wonderful privilege to have my work reviewed in any way, shape or form in a country where any kind of poetry reviewing is rare and coveted - so thankyou to the Crikey LiteraryMinded blog, and to the Overland editorial team.
The best they said was:
"...her vernacular is powerful and funny: the sooner she is available on YouTube the better for her now-growing reputation...Clarke is one of the most compelling voices in Australian poetry this decade..." - Stephen Lawrence, Overland
"Opening the book is like turning on the radio to something quite funky. It sets you moving in its own time. The translation of rhythms from music into print; that’s the achievement, impressive, as the many who write poetry will know, the significance, of Clarke’s collection. Turn to any title. You’ll find its movement getsinto your own, into your foot against the chair leg, your fingers on the keypad. It gives you an idea of the strength to be found in Clarke’s live performances...Even not carrying the revolution under its arm, her book should certainly make the streets." -Greg Westenberg, Crikey.
The worst they said was:
"The downside is that when Clarke’s words are forced to lie flat on the page, you can see they have only two registers: sex and politics...when however, she strays from these topics or tries to build upon them, the poems grow weaker. The first page of ‘unmiracle’ is sassy and moving; page two isn’t. This may work perfectly well on stage but it may be excessive to load up two full pages when one would have done"-Stephen Lawrence, Overland.
"The negative? if: a rewrite does not add anything to the plays listed in a roll-call of notable characters. We know nothing new about Caliban from Clarke’s paintinghim in ghetto-wear, The Tempest will be no different. Particularly set as it is next to important poems like my people, if reads like a record industry caricature of afro-american culture. Perhaps I’m missing something, but Ice Cube’s A Gangsta Fairytale seems a better start for pointed reinterpretation. if had the taste of a posture, overcooked after the finely spiced dishes accompanying. we want poetry back is another poem that would not have been missed from the collection." -Greg Westenberg, Crikey.