canadian ~ twenty-first century literature since 1999

Bawdy Per Verse (& Irreverent) contemporary antipodean verse
Knight, John and Katherine Samuelowicz, editors
Illustrations from the figure by Brenda Lewis.
Published by Post Pressed, Australia (email:

Reviewed by Joanna M. Weston

Not for the inhibited, not for the shy, not for the ‘Victorian sensibilities’ - this book is brash, bawdy, ribald and ... fun! The one necessity is a rabellaisian sense of humour. The editors set out to prove that poetry ‘can cast a shrewd dry observant eye over our foibles and inconsistencies, treating them with gentle mockery or savage ridicule.’

Read, for instance, the first poem ‘Big Boobs, by Gloria B Yates: ‘see me clumping down the street/ dragged by the dogs on a double leash/ with my big boobs wobbling/ wobbling all over/ who’s taking who for a walk they say/ ...’ and smile at the picture created. The reader is drawn into poems such as Kate O’Neill’s ‘Dear Miss Dix’: ‘I’m a lousy lover/ and I’ve been told/ I should use all the practice I can get/ and yet/ I keep on having to say ... / I’m sorry ...’ and keeps reading.

Which is not to say that Knight and Samuelowicz have avoided serious subjects. The longest poem in the book, Ouyang Yu’s ‘Written by a Chinese Prostitute’ is thoughtful, oddly poignant, and thought-provoking, ‘my body is the universal language that requires no learning/ my body is the world map that covers all the territories of desires’ and on to the poem’s amazing last line. Janice M Bostok’s ‘When It’s Over It Isn’t’ is difficult but rewarding with swiftly turned images that tell a story.

Some of the poems are indeed irreverent, but pithy. Gloria B Yates’ ‘I will Lift up mine Eyes Unto the Hills’ starts with a take-off of Psalm 121 and moves successfully to Psalm 23 with bitter comment on first environmental and then media pollution. Brenda Lewis’ sketches are unobtrusively suggestive and definitely enhance the anthology. The editors want us to know that poetry ‘can be wicked too, and wickedly amusing.’

And they succeed with this eclectic collection of poetry that is lascivious, ‘on occasion even irreverent, often carnal but seldom if ever obscene.’ In fact, this collection never crosses the border into obscenity, funny it is, indecent it is - a great book to share with friends over a beer, or to browse through with a like-minded partner.

JOANNA M. WESTON: born in England; married to an accountant, Robert; 3 sons, one daughter-in-law, 3 grandchildren, two cats; has a green thumb and an enlarging garden. M.A. from the University of British Columbia; appears in several anthologies; published in Canada, U.S.A., U.K. etc. for the past 15 years in magazines such as CANADIAN WOMAN STUDIES, CHIRON REVIEW, DANDELION, ENDLESS MOUNTAIN REVIEW, SPIN, WRITER’S OWN MAGAZINE, GREEN’S MAGAZINE, etc.; reviews poetry. chapbooks: ONE OF THESE LITTLE ONES, 1987; CUERNAVACA DIARY, 1990; SEASONS, 1993; ALL SEASONS, 1996 (2nd edition 1997).







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ISSN 1494-6114. 


We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts. Nous remercions de son soutien le Conseil des Arts du Canada.