No other book of poetry has been so popular with the judges of so many different state awards.
From the 2006 Victorian Premier’s Prize for Poetry judges’ report (judges: The C J Dennis Prize for Poetry: Judith Rodriguez [Convenor], Emma Lew and Rodney Hall):
The new and uncollected poems in John Tranter’s «Urban Myths» make a significant addition to his oeuvre. Control and ease are evident in the writing, which displays personages, occasions and moods of the metropolitan modern world. Tranter’s latest poems refresh through the exercise of urbane skills: this is a poet suave and playful, but never aloof; linguistically various, assured in style, and never less than fully attentive.
From the 2007 New South Wales Kenneth Slessor Prize for poetry judges’ report (judges: Martin Harrison [chair], Kate Lilley, Kathleen Stewart):
This generous collection of 210 poems takes in the whole of John Tranter’s dazzling career including fifty new and uncollected poems as virtuosic as anything that precedes them. These final pages demonstrate the continuously innovative and international character of Tranter’s poetry, as well as its finely tuned responsiveness to the particularities of Australian idiom and experience. In Tranter’s hands, poetry, and language itself, is never straightforward but always a matter of delight and critical inquiry. Tranter’s devastating wit has evolved over time, but the daring and implicit humour of the enterprise has been constant. Combining tremendous technical fluency with a restless, experimental drive, Tranter delves into ‘popular mysteries’ and iconic characters, the irony of the everyday and ‘the vernacular of the shopping channel’. Tranter’s seemingly effortless command of the resources of form, speech, character and story, energizes his poetry and stimulates his readers, counterbalancing the melancholy of ‘grief, in small allotments’ with the ‘gift factory’ of poetic invention.’
The 2008 South Australian John Bray Poetry Award judges’ report (judges: Nicholas Jose [chair], Stephen Lawrence, Jan Owen):
Complex and sophisticated, this collection reflects the protean nature of mind, its amplitude and resilience. The poems are linguistically and intellectually sinuous and move with mercurial speed. Society is scrutinized, sardonically challenged and affirmed, and the self is part of the kaleidoscopic spill of surfaces and angles. Different voices and planes play together into the improvised melodies of jazz; characterisation, observation and memory produce haunting, dissonant chords. The poems are complex, tough and cheeky even as they are fluid and exalting. The mood can be edgy and dark, or lighter in tone, witty to downright funny, often with a cinematic or surreal video-clip quality. The later poems, particularly, use dislocation and randomness to create compelling otherworlds of words.
The book also won the 2008 South Australian Premier’s Award for Literature: for the best book in any category in 2006 and 2007.
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