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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.

Reviews: Poems,1980-2008