Chris Wallace-Crabbe’s The Domestic Sublime

Available from 22 November 2009

Sleeve Notes for Chris Wallace-Crabbe’s The Domestic Sublime
Like his men dressed in a blue singlet vernacular bringing up bags of tact – expensive but worth it – in this survey of his work Chris Wallace Crabbe delivers. The tact is impressive but it may be the least of it. Here is a shipment of poems – appealingly idiosyncratic, pairings of insight and intellectual high jinks, puns and history are all here along with depths of care and memory.

This selection is drawn from four decades of Wallace-Crabbe’s award winning books. If you don’t know his work this reading makes a perfect introduction to Wallace-Crabbe and if you do, it’s an essential insight into how these poems work best.

Carol Jenkins

‘A witty, endearingly slangy, yet unostentatiously philosophical Australian Poet.”
Times Literary Supplement

Biographical Note

Chris Wallace-Crabbe was born in 1934. After leaving school he worked as cadet metallurgist at the Royal Mint, Melbourne, then at diverse jobs, including six months in the RAAF. Graduating in English and philosophy, he became Lockie Fellow in Australian Literature, University of Melbourne, in 1961. Over the next decades  he taught at Melbourne, gaining a Personal Chair from 1988. He was Harkness Fellow at Yale University, 1965-67, Professor of Australian Studies at Harvard, 1987-8 and Visiting Professor at the University of Venice, 1973 and 2005. His first book of poems was published in Australia in 1959. Oxford University Press began publishing his work in 1989 with The Amorous Cannibal. He has given readings of his poetry around the world, but never in Africa. His most recent books of verse include The Universe Looks Down (Brandl & Schlesinger, 2005), Telling a Hawk from a Handsaw (Carcanet, 2009) and the bilingual Each Line of Writing Still Is to be Done (Officina, 2006). He chairs the Australian Poetry Centre in Melbourne. Also a commentator on the visual arts, he specializes in “artists’ books”. His critical collection, Read It Again, was published by Salt in 2005. Among other awards, he has won the Dublin Prize for Arts and Sciences and the Christopher Brennan Award for Literature. Devoted to team sports and landscape, he has become Professor Emeritus in Historical Studies, University of Melbourne.

Playlist: The Domestic Sublime

1.    Puck Disembarks  1’ 38”
2.    Mozart on the Road  1’40”
3.    Wanting to be a Sculptor 0’51”
4.    Loving in Truth  0’54”
5.    Trace Elements   1’36”
6.    The Speech of Birds  1’07”
7.    The Bush    1’11”
8.    The Amorous Cannibal   1’02”
9.    Stardust      2’59”
10.    The Domestic Sublime – The Surface of Things  0’43”
11.    The Domestic Sublime – Saucer  0’32”
12.    The Domestic Sublime – Coathangers Galore  0’25”
13.    The Domestic Sublime – Garlic   0’27”
14.    The Domestic Sublime – At the Clothesline  0’43”
15.    It Sounds Different Today   2’03”
16.    Grasses       1’27”
17.    God            1’32”
18.    Exit the Players    1”10”
19.    Erstwhile  1’14”
20.    Delivering Tact   0’56”
21.    an Die Musik      1’14”
22.    Afternoon in the Central Nervous System  2’00”
23.    A Summons in the Peak Period    1’13”
24.    We Being Ghosts Cannot Catch Hold of Things  0’51”
25.    A Faun’s Arvo  1’11”
26.    A Descendant  2’30”

Running Time: 33 minutes

Copyright Chris Wallace-Crabbe © 2009
Copyright River Road Press Pty Ltd © 2009

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory board.