Friday, 4 April 2014

Ken Taylor, 1930-2014

I didn’t ever meet Ken Taylor, nor did I hear him read his work. But I have two of his books: At Valentines, published in 1975 (a faded image above), and Africa, published in 2000 (I was probably in the wrong place when A Secret Australia came out in 1985). I would certainly have seen some of his work with the Natural History Unit of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation though I may not have been aware that he was responsible for it. Taylor was involved with the poets who grouped around Melbourne’s La Mama theatre in the late sixties. I was just beginning to write at the time and Monash University in Clayton where I studied (and lived with my parents) was twelve miles away from the action in inner-city Carlton. Much has been made of the antagonisms between the Carlton and Clayton poets and that mere twelve miles seemed like a giant step at the time, but there were many commonalities (my first book was published by Ken Taylor’s friend Robert Kenny a year after At Valentines appeared). Taylor’s poems were influenced by those of AR Ammons and Gary Snyder among others, but they have a sparseness and sureness of their own. It would be a good thing if all of the poems were to appear in a single collection though Australian poetry publishers tend to divide into the scholarly presses who deal with canonically approved poets and the smaller presses who generally prefer their authors to be alive. Kris Hemensley has posted a good deal more about Taylor here.

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