In the nick

By Rhonda Dredge

Is a poet idealistic or egotistical? When you have four girls and a wife who “support” you the second option may seem to be the most likely.

Nathan Curnow launched his latest book of poetry The Apocalypse Awards at the Collected Works bookshop last month to a loyal band of supporters.

The production of art is an economic event, said Miles Allinson who met the poet at university, and spoke about his work against the grid of parenthood – pitting controlled melancholy against the fortune of the functional family.

Mr Curnow is the son of a preacher, at home with “comic darkness, death and love” and the “Christian echo of the dramatic and the realistic”.

He went to a dark place into the suburb near his home, said his fellow writer, and dug with his fingernails until they bled. He touched something metallic and he let out a lot of radioactive power into the air in his nocturnal adventures.

A plague of inexplicable pregnancies was soon taking over the world, a reference to his partner, a midwife.

Curnow’s poems are not all connected to the personal realm. A marriage is consummated in one between two dead whales in the darkest part of the subconscious.

“Poetry got its hooks into me and swallowed me whole,” says Mr Curnow, who took up writing at Melbourne uni and has thrown himself into the allure of concepts depicted in Escapalogy, Legoland and Back Paddock.

He read of the “slow milk of dawn” and the “pale wafer on the tongue” and the “award-winning cinema in the making” at the launch.

This is Curnow’s fourth collection of poems. The Apocalypse Awards is published by Australian Scholarly Publishing.

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