The Best 100 Poems of Dorothy Porter

Dorothy Porter

The Best 100 Poems of Dorothy Porter
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The Best 100 Poems of Dorothy Porter

Dorothy Porter

Dorothy Porter was one of Australia’s true originals, renowned for her passionate, punchy poetry and verse novels. This collection, the best of her life’s work as selected by her partner Andrea Goldsmith, presents the many facets of Porter, from her break-out verse novel The Monkey’s Mask to her posthumous collection, The Bee Hut.

Whether stretching the fabric of ancient mythology, discovering the beauty of the natural world or inking an intimate message on the heart, Porter’s verse is endlessly captivating. This is an essential volume for longtime admirers and newcomers alike.

Review

A wild combination of experimental, popular and prolific, Dorothy Porter was the kind of poet writers want to be and readers – even non-poetry readers – want to read. Black Inc.’s The Best 100 Poems of Dorothy Porter concisely represents her rich and varied writing career and shows her stylistic development, from the early acclaimed Monkey’s Mask to the posthumous The Bee Hut. Porter was particularly renowned for romantic and erotic poetry – ground already covered by Black Inc.’s other recent posthumous anthology, Love Poems, which, like The Best 100, was compiled with the assistance of Porter’s partner Andrea Goldsmith.

Although a powerful and idiosyncratic conjurer of lust-scenarios, there is much more to Porter’s body of work than the erotic. She held a career-long interest in genre, and many of her poems call classical and populist forms to task. Meditations on the ancient, the animal, crime and mortality are interwoven and exhibited in work spanning terse lyrical pieces to detective-noir epics.

The Best 100 presents a poet equally attuned to the tissue of ancient text as to contemporary times and places. There’s often a sense of a suburban spit-balling, a loveable little hoodlum behind the sting of the verse. In a canny description of the poetic art that might best be applied to her own, Porter speculates that poetry is ‘the archaic skill of flying over the back of the beast / and gracefully surviving, making it look easy’. Porter’s ambitions are often audacious, but the effect is effortless. This is poetry to be devoured in bed in one go, and something about such a readerly fate – a surrenderring through the night – would perhaps have appealed to Porter.

The Best 100 Poems of Dorothy Porter is a highly recommended introduction for newcomers and an essential volume for long-time lovers.


Lucy Van is a freelance reviewer.

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