Tranter’s restless craft is evident in the service of a complex and free-ranging style in this brilliantly playful collection.
Poor Doris, she was like an uprooted tree
swirling through the eye of a tornado, one viewer feels,
an aquatic Dorothy Gale in a gale. Then
she married again and again, but America
is sleeping safely with its secrets in the Western night.
Radical revisions, mistranslations and multilingual dealings: in Starlight
, John Tranter destroys and rebuilds works by poets including Baudelaire, Mallarmé, Ashbery and T. S. Eliot. The back story of modern poetry is vigorously interrogated, though the narratives are contemporary and the action takes place in the arena of the here and now. The atmosphere crackles with colloquial energy and the dialogue undercuts itself with a dry wit.