The Ambiguous Modernist: Themes in the Development of the Poetry of John Tranter


When Martin Duwell asked John Tranter about how he would describe his books' concerns thematically. Tranter replied that while it was possible to treat his first book Parallax thematically, his later books moved away from that. Appearing to make the assumption that a theme is something that a particular poem has, and is limited by, he adds that 'by the time you get to The Alphabet Murders you can't really find a "theme" at all, and in that sense it's a little like the development in art from pictorial representation to abstract expressionism—although .... A word has a distinct denotative meaning with reference to a thing or an event in a real world, whereas a colour or a line in art doesn't''. Although Tranter does not seem comfortable talking about them, there are a number of themes running through the work as a whole. In the sonnets, Crying In Early Infancy, at least, none of the individual poems is limited by them

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Published 1 October 1980 in Volume 9 No. 4. Subjects: Modernism, New Australian Poetry, Poetic techniques, John Tranter.

Cite as: Jones, Rae Desmond. ‘The Ambiguous Modernist: Themes in the Development of the Poetry of John Tranter.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 9, no. 4, 1980, doi: 10.20314/als.5f6c6d2d02.