From Martin Duwell, Australian Book Review, May 2007, p.48:
‘Julian Croft, born in 1941, is a poet whose work deserves a wider audience. This new work, Ocean Island, is by far the best … Devourer-of-life and writer-on-sand are two images of the poet, but Croft’s poetry suggests there are many more.’
From Felicity Plunkett, Cordite, www.cordite.org.au:
‘These philosophically alert and emotionally complex poems … in Julian Croft’s Ocean Island suggest the occluded and multifarious that lies behind the surface, gesturing toward the tidal, and larger worlds that dwarf human concerns.’
From Jen Webb, Review essay: Poetry in Australia and the John Leonard Press,http://www.textjournal.com.au/oct08/webb.htm
This is a poet who knows what he’s looking at, and how to see. And in ‘Making hay’ he discusses the point of poetry, of:
the poet not as seer or prophet
but the vacuum-cleaner that sucks up
all the dried-out thoughts of others,
watches the galahs roost and waits for dawn,
and that fresh incarnation of who we are
lit in a new transfiguring light
To my mind, this is the coda of the whole collection – that poetry provides us a way of seeing all the made world as symbol.
I have read a few reviews of this collection, and most point the reader to the truly marvellous ‘After a war (any war)’ – which I too recommend. For me, though, his awareness of the workplace is the most trenchant aspect that informs this collection, and a whole world is opened up by, for instance, ‘Dockyard’:
Mother’s sewing room but run by men.
Filthy with rust and dust, steel fabric is cut
by flaming scissors; sparks, blobs of hot metal
glue the gusseted bits, and seams of rivet pins
run round the paunch of the belted keelson
The factory might resemble a sewing room, but the domestic imagery fades as the poem unfolds, and we see that really, it is a ‘rough beast, its hour come round at last’.