‘Phrases Between Us’: The Poetry of Anna Wickham
Anna Wickham was a poet, singer, social worker and feminist activist. The American scholar Jennifer Vaughan Jones published a biography in 2003, a book which reveals a great deal about Wickham's struggle as a poet but which is not widely held in Australia. But Jones shies away from a full analysis of the poetry, and there are almost no recent essays on Wickham's work? In spite of the critical neglect, Anna Wickham's poetry is widely anthologised in the United Kingdom. Australia and the United States, and her distinctive modernist poetic voice deserves close attention. One of the attractions of her poetry is its blend of strength and accessibility, its firmness of tone and conviction. At its best it is tight and highly charged; another feature is its range, the poems being by turns provocative, combative, merry and sensual. Most importantly, it offers an enduring aesthetic purity and resonance, in combination with a questing feminist intelligence. In this essay I want to consider the breadth and achievements of Wickham's published and unpublished writing, particularly in the context of Germaine Greer's criticism of her and her work.
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