In Stephen Edgar’s new poetry collection Ghosts of Paradise three clusters of 14 poems, each a precisely sculpted jewel, are threaded together in precise sequence to create a dazzling array of people, places and moments in time. The title poem is ‘based on the fancy that in the distant future humanity may have evolved to the point where it is no longer entirely organic, or indeed corporeal’. First ghost among equals in Edgar’s paradise is WB Yeats, ‘waving his arms and shouting at the trees’. Then Adamson, Barthes, Browne, Dickinson, Disraeli and other wraiths from the pantheon. Sonnets and other traditional forms entwine with a rich panoply of characteristically original metrical conceits so cunningly employed that it is only after re-reading and reflection that the subtle structure declares itself.
Pitt Street Poetry is proud to welcome Stephen Edgar to its roster of Australian poets with this new collection. Over the four decades since Queueing for the Mudd Club was published by Twelvetrees in Hobart in 1985, his reputation for delicately crafted, deftly observed and deeply thoughtful verse has grown to establish a strong Australian and international following, culminating in the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Poetry in 2021 for his survey collection The Strangest Place: New and Selected Poems (Blackpepper 2020), of which British author John Banville wrote, ‘What wonderful poems these are. Stephen Edgar should be recognized as one of the very best poets of our days.’