John Foulcher’s Democracy


The most noticeable thing about Foulcher's work is that it is decisively social. His poems are full of people—not shadowy figures meant to represent types, but real flesh and blood whose names might be checked in the telephone book. Reviewers have sometimes overlooked this, concentrating instead on Foulcher's supposed transcendental imperatives. But that misconceives his poetic enterprise. Foulcher's sense of the sacred is various and elusive, but it is always grounded in immanence rather than transcendence. For that reason, his gaze is fixed resolutely on this world in all its rawness—the actual, the historic, the personal. Coupled with this attention to specific social situations is a commitment to write in a direct style. This seems a necessary choice, given that the task Foulcher sets himself is the examination of what he calls the 'dark and human sadness'—the complexity of ordinary, as opposed to poetic, experience.

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Published 1 October 1999 in Volume 19 No. 2. Subjects: Australian poetry, Human condition, Loss, Mortality, Photographers & photography, Poetic techniques, Use of language.

Cite as: Poacher, Jeffrey. ‘John Foulcher’s Democracy.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 19, no. 2, 1999, doi: 10.20314/als.17b2df78f8.