‘It is reasonable that poets, by the time they reach their mid-seventies, should be involved in projects which re-evaluate their current lives and poems in the light of early experience and expectations. This most recent book of Ron Pretty’s – and it is by some distance his best – is built around the Swedish proverb, ‘The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected,’ treated not as an opportunity to gloat over the wisdom which age is supposed to bring but instead to puzzle out the weird discrepancies and disjunctions between the two states of ‘what-I-was-then’ and ‘what-I-am-now’. . .
. . . One always had the feeling from Pretty’s earlier books that his poems were well-made, sturdily braced, hard-working objects that dealt with experience at the personal and social levels but needed an infusion of one kind of madness or another to shake them out of their comfort zone. One of the features that makes What the Afternoon Knows his most satisfying book is that its poems have room for the disturbingly irrational.’
Martin Duwell ABR February 2014
‘. . . at a time when indirection is often taken to extremes, it’s refreshing to read a collection where the poems are direct and emotionally-engaged, while still possessing the linguistic and intellectual subtlety we rightly demand of poetry.’
Geoff Page Canberra Times 24th August 2013
(click on the link for the pdf)
Ron Pretty has been publishing his poetry for more than 40 years. He has published eight books of poetry, the most recent being The Left Hand Mirror (Pitt Street Poetry 2017), and the chapbook In the Cave (Ginninderra Press 2022). His book on writing poetry, Creating Poetry, was re-issued in 2015 by Pitt Street Poetry in a revised edition.
He has taught writing in schools, universities and community groups throughout Australia and in US, England and Austria. From 1983 to 1999 he was Head of Writing in the Faculty of Creative Arts at the University of Wollongong. Until he retired in 2007, he was the director of Five Islands Press, a leading publisher of contemporary Australian poetry for which he published 230 books by Australian poets in the 20 years 1987–2007. He was based at the University of Melbourne, 2003–2007 where he taught creative writing and was managing editor of Blue Dog: Australian Poetry 2002–2007.
Ron Pretty won the NSW Premier’s Special Prize for services to literature in 2001 and received an AM for services to Australian literature in 2002.
He spent six months in 2012 at the Whiting Studio in Rome, having been awarded a residency by the Australia Council for the Arts. He has had residencies at the Tasmanian Writers Centre, the Katherine Susannah Prichard Centre in WA, and at Hill End Artists’ Studio in NSW.