Australian Love Poems 2013 edited by Mark Tredinnick

We’re not really ones for grand romantic gestures, or so many Australians would have you think. The first publication out of Inkerman & Blunt, Australian Love Poems 2013, thoroughly disproves this notion. Publisher Donna Ward (former editor of literary journal Indigo) has said the collection aims to ‘bring Australians out of the closet on love, and on their love of poetry’.

Edited by Mark Tredinnick, the collection is accessible to newcomers and those already enamoured with verse. It spans the stages and forms of love and is divided into several sections; like a relationship, reading this collection takes you on a journey.

All forms are represented: haiku (poignant pieces by Emilie Zoey Baker and Paul Kelly), villanelle, prose poems, and free verse. There are crushes, weddings, hook-ups and fallings out. Some poems are mythical and religious in their desire, others are bold and libidinous: ‘when my tugging oil-slick fist / has you tumescent and butting at my lips; / when every nerve’s erect as a spinifex’ (Lisa Jacobson). Bronwyn Lovell’s ‘Running into Your Ex’ is instructive and ever so relatable, where Alex Skovron’s ‘A Valediction’ is pure grace and gratitude.

Many of the writers marvel at the changes of language in the wake of new technology (you ‘less than three’ me?) or how it hinders us: ‘all this technology at our fingertips and still we can’t speak’ (Carolyn Leach-Paholski). Love finds itself in music (Chet Baker, The Go-Betweens and Colin Hay get mentions), in familiar imagery of flowers and birds – so many birds! – and more surprising forms: emergencies, feet and Jimmy Stewart.

In ‘Cartography’, Jordie Albiston asks ‘what is a harbour but a heart’. The love pulses through this book like ships at a wharf, in a continuous cycle of loving and having loved.

Jessica Alice Smith is a freelance reviewer.