The sharp pen of our poet lorikeet
The Bastard Who Squashed the Grapes in Me Bag
313 poems, songs and stories
By Denis Kevans
Left Book Club
128 pp. $10.00
Reviewed by Bruce Copping
Denis Kevans is neither an academic's poet nor the establishment's darling. Whatever side of the political fence you sit on, or even if you sit in the middle, if you're in need of a deflating barb, Denis will provide it.
His penetrating pen goes straight to the core of bombast, hypocrisy and egomania and, with all the aplomb of a Marcus Valerius Martial, reduces them to flatulence. Denis' poetry is a legacy of Lawson and C.J. Dennis: biting wit straight from the heart that will always find an Australian heart to respond.
His new book is an irreverent look at the way Australians are in the last two decades of the 20th century. With poems like "The Abdication of the Bastard from the Bush", "Panguna Copper Mine Bougainville", and "Our Flags", he cuts the mask off current issues that most Australians prefer not to think about.
I met Denis for the first time when he came to the Grand Junction Hotel, Maitland, as a guest poet. It was one of Poetry in the Pub's more successful nights. Denis sang and performed his works to the delight and horror of the mixed crowd that attended, the horror coming from the more conservative in the audience.
For while most Australians have a penchant for laughing and crying over their own foibles, some get a little uppity when it comes to the sacred cows of the community: RSL, the queen, her royals and religion. Denis spared no-one. His latest book does credit to his incisive insight and rapier pen.
Get your copy from the Left Book Club, Room 57, Trades Hall, 4 Goulburn St, Sydney, phone (02) 283 3724.
Bruce Copping is president of Maitland Poets in the Pub.