The Citizenship of Peter Porter
Casting about among recent poetry for work that brings an informed intelligence directly to bear on our civilisation, I have found my attention settling on the former citizen (born 1929) of Brisbane, since 1951 a Londoner, Peter Porter. Here, it seemed, was a consciousness not parading its exhaustion but active and curious, critical and judicious, satirical and compassionate. The superficies of contemporary life crowd his poems, and I trusted that a further acquaintance with them would reveal an exploration of some of the underlying issues of our times. What I can report is an achievement less positive than that, for the poetry here and there partakes of the 'contemporary' qualities it professes to expose, but an achievement nonetheless substantial and cheering.
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