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Kevin Densley / Orpheus in the Undershirt

  • Kevin Densley / Orpheus in the Undershirt
“With Orpheus in the Undershirt, Kevin Densley has produced his best book yet: sharp but not cutting, tart but not cynical, the collection weaves lyric, barb and lament into a marvellous, prickly garment that soothes as it stimulates. Don’t like small, evocative poems as clear and complex as rockpools? Dive into an eight-page outlaw fistfight roaring with dust and despair. Not interested in ‘When Johnstone’s Circus Came to Town’? (Though why wouldn’t you be, with its ‘toupeed ringmaster/in a red lamé suit’ and aromatic ‘strong whiff of manure’?) Explore instead the death of a bantam ‘inside the chookhouse/among the warm chooky smells’. Unlike most collections which attempt to blend ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture, to find the charge of destiny in the nuts and bolts of the everyday, Orpheus does it effortlessly, without need of gimmicks or creaky, overbearing conceits. Here Kevin Densley fuses the marvels and mundanities of life into a witty, searching collection that sings the subtleties of both.” - James Roderick Burns, Other Poetry
'The poems in Orpheus in the Undershirt are made up of morsels of the mundane and the marvellous. Ostentatiousness is banished and there is an unabashed delight in the low brow - Death of Presley comes to mind in a flash in the pan endgame of thrones - and we are made richer by the pourer of the familiar, both profound and profane.' - Sydney Arts Guide
'As you would expect from a playfully titled collection like this, Densley’s poetry is suffused with a wry humour found in teasing out the quirks and details of the memories, landscapes, stories and observations he shares. The subjects of his poems are varied: domestic moments, responses to films, photographs, memories and works of literature, flashes of thought and longer celebrations. Occasional touches of mystery and a deep fascination with people couple with a mastery of rhythm and this overarching chuckle to produce pieces that are both thoughtful and teasing.' - London Grip
'Not one sign of political correctness, nor of the needless moralising that afflicts some of our more renowned poets. To put it bluntly, he is fun to read! Why? Densley is willing to take the mickey out of his subjects: Mickey Mouse, Greek mythology, classics of English literature such as Richardson’s Clarissa sweet & even Auden’s ‘In Praise of Limestone’, ‘Gneiss is gneisser’ & international heroes such as Ingres & Elvis, as well as us, his readers.' - Azuria
'Densley's poems help us appreciate the tenacity of the individual in a darkening world… ' - Polestar
'Like Orpheus with his golden lyre, Densley assumes the role of the bard, a figure who blurs the distinctions between musician, poet and oracle.' - Sudo
‘This is a collection of poems you can go back to again and again, gleaning new angles and laying down new reflections and contemplations each time.’ - Tamba
‘Densley’s achievement is impressive, with regard to both pitch and poetic stamina… As with every polished collection, the poems are arranged with careful attention to transition and the patterning of mood…’ - Antipodes
978 1 76041 501 3, 64pp




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