Review of Stressing tile Modern: Cultural Politics in Australian Women's Poetry, by Ann Vickery
Stressing the Modern is a collective literary biography of seven women poets of the early twentieth century. The eldest is Mary Gilmore, whose long life (1865-1962) produced enough poetry to fill the two large volumes of Collected Verse edited by Jennifer Strauss and published by UQP in 2004 and 2007. The youngest is Lesbia Harford (1891-1927), who published very little during her short life but whose posthumously published lyrics (a volume edited by Nettie Palmer in 1941 and another edited by Drusilla Modjeska and Marjorie Pizer in 1985) manifest an acute and tough sensibility, with style to match. Between these two come five lesser lights, at least in this reviewer's opinion: Marie Pitt, the firebrand poet and journalist; Mary Fullerton, who spent much of her writing life in London, as did Anna Wickham, who mixed in modernist literary circles there, after spending a peripatetic childhood in Australia; Zora Cross, famous for her lyrics of female sexual desire, and Nettie Palmer, who began as a poet and ended up an influential cultural critic.
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