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an admirable concern to keep lines open to writing in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and America.
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Telling a Hawk from a Handsaw
Making the slow line dip and sway in its motion
proceeding gravely into and out of the limelight
is worth the endeavour, if you are given to word-games,
which all of us are in one way or another,
playing at words of love and the diction of dying,
what we say being just as green as the world is.
from ‘The Alignments’
Chris Wallace-Crabbe writes with an alert curiosity about the world and the speculation it gives rise to. He celebrates household objects as well as the textures of the Australian landscape; European ancestors, both familial and intellectual, and the consciousness of animals; the damaged planet and the continuing possibilities of belief; science and soul. Humour and gravity inform his richly orchestrated language. Telling a Hawk from a Handsaw is a collection for a complicated world, both joyous and shrewd.
Cover painting Live Music (The Brunswick Club) by Kristin Headlam, 2004 (detail). Reproduced by kind permission of the artist. Cover design www.StephenRaw.com.
Awards won by Chris Wallace-Crabbe Short-listed, 2019 Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry in the NSW Premier's Literature Awards (Rondo)
'A witty, endearingly slangy, yet unostentatiously philosophical Australian poet'.
Times Literary Supplement 'His allies are words and he uses them with the care of a surgeon and the flair of a conjuror.'
Peter Porter Praise for Chris Wallace-Crabbe 'One constant of Chris Wallace-Crabbe's poetry has been his lexical range, his zest for injecting the demotic into his work. Wallace-Crabbe's poetry gambols about in the whole gamut of language's expressive possibilities'
Mark Prendergast, Tears in the Fence, no.70, 2019. pp. 132-137
'Wallace-Crabbe may be in love with language, especially the colloquial, the quirky and the idiosyncratic, but he also has "something to say". Rondo is rich in elegy and acknowledgement.'
Geoff Page, Sydney Morning Herald
'Prefacing one of his new poems, Wallace-Crabbe quotes D. H. Lawrence: "You just walk out of the world and into Australia." Here it is the other way round. You walk out of a Wallace-Crabbe poem and into the world.'
Alastair Niven 'Wallace-Crabbe engages the most serious subjects in a frame of mind at once vulnerable and humorous. His personae may be shackled to the mast of slang, conceit, and bathos, but the song of the Siren is nevertheless nobly clear in these poems.'
Mary Kinzie, Poetry (Chicago) 'There is certainly an immense and joyous energy in the book and it mixes intellectual experience of excitement and doubt with personal experience of exaltation tinged by reminders.. of mortalily.'
Martin Duwell, The Australian '...in his valuing of both the aesthetic and the ordinary as the realms of humanity, he always reminds us - despite what the end has to offer us all - of a different kind of weather, one where, even as darkness is falling, ''the lit clouds yet / sail sweetly over us / inhabiting a daylight of their own''.'
David McCooey, Sydney Morning Herald '...in his valuing of both the aesthetic and the ordinary as the realms of humanity, he always reminds us - despite what the end has to offer us all - of a different kind of weather, one where, even as darkness is falling, ''the lit clouds yet / sail sweetly over us / inhabiting a daylight of their own''.'
David McCooey, Sydney Morning Herald
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