ISBN: 9780977578788 • 344 pp. pbk • RRP: 29.95
This retrospective by Jan Owen includes a majority of the poems from her first five volumes, with some revisions. Gathered with them is a book-length collection of new poetry, Laughing in Greek.
A large and intricate world is on display, present in capsule on page 1 in ‘First Love’. This poem sets going a motif of the airy light and shadow cast by memory of adult and childhood relationships. It also raises the lure of knowledge: Owen’s verse is infused with the sciences, and with art, philosophy and history. Her interest is the world itself, and the words for it. When she writes a poem that dwells on a place or a painting – or a memory – it is not as a tourist impressionist but as a thinker and precise sensualist.
Jan Owen has a command of wit and tone across a wide range of verse techniques, both formal and free. She moves easily between plain, oblique and surreal. Some of the new poems seem glowing labyrinths of thinking and language – led through by a wonderful clarity of voice and rhythm.
Poems 1980-2008 was shortlisted and ‘highly commended’ for the 2009 Judith Wright Prize in the A.C.T Awards.
Here is a selection of poems from this volume.