John Tranter: Absence in Flight


In recent years a number of younger Australian poets have expressed distrust of the notion of poetry as a discourse bearing a moral or social message from an identifiable and unified subject, 'the poet'. The unofficial spokesman for these writers has been John Tranter, who in 1979 collected the work of twenty-four of them in the anthology The New Australian Poetry. In his Introduction to that volume he discusses modernism in Western art and literature, and aligns the work of the poets included in his anthology with this movement. In their poetry 'words—the fragments of language the poet places in the special framework of a poem—have a reality more solid and intense than the world of objects and sense-perception', thus producing poetry which 'demonstrates a value unencumbered by moralism, ego or social utilitarianism.' Tranter argues that this sets these poets apart from what he considered the prevailing moralising atmosphere of Australian poetry at that time, an atmosphere typified by Vincent Buckley's poem 'Golden Builders'.

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Published 1 October 1986 in Volume 12 No. 4. Subjects: Poetic techniques, Self, John Tranter.

Cite as: Taylor, Andrew. ‘John Tranter: Absence in Flight.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 12, no. 4, 1986, doi: 10.20314/als.68e742a44a.