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Review: Carnival Edge: New and Selected Poems, by Katherine Gallagher

Paul Hetherington, Westerly Vol56.1 2011

The poem 'Shapes Within a Pattern', which emphasises the importance of observation, nicely introduces Katherine Gallagher's Carnival Edge,a volume of new and selected poetry that draws on four decades of writing. Gallagher is not as well known in Australia as she might be because of her long period of expatriation, mainly in London, but it is gratifying to read a book of poetry that is straightforwardly and clearly written and which demands the same kind of careful attentiveness from readers that the poet has brought to the exercise of her craft. Gallgher's works are often personal - there are poems about children, lovers, family - and are nuanced and reflective.

Gallagher also writes a number of poems about travelling, and some about returning to Australia. Her work consistently conveys a sense of alert awareness even as it rarely claims more knowledge than the poet can demonstrate she has. If sometimes her poems finish with open endings and inconclusive statements my sense is that this is how the poet undertands her world.