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February 01, 2023

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John still remains the best Australian poet of his generation and subsequent. Indeed, though it would be necessary to read all the works by all the English language poets born let's say post World War 2, he must rank with the very best of them.

Certainly his love of the New York School should be acknowledged with vigour, but there were plenty of other poets and poems John adored, for starters Milton, Cowper, he once thought of writing a thesis based on and around 'The Task', Hopkins' 'The Windhover', which he knew by heart, and Thomas Grey's 'Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College' which I recall him reciting at a party!! He was a big backer of Australian Poetry, greatly supporting for starters Kenneth Slessor, John Manifold, Bruce Beaver and Les Murray from earlier generations. Those of his peers he supported are still in his debt. [As an aside, the photo of John is from 1977 and shows him launching my 2nd book 'New Devil, New Parish'.]

It would be great if somewhere other than Australia in the English speaking and writing world there would be a publisher game enough to produce a Collected or indeed a Selected Forbes.

I look forward to Thomas Moody's Part 2

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark


from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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