Review by David Malouf

Rowbotham is one of our most enduring poets.  This collection – spare, idiosyncratic, agile, elliptical, immediately alive to the present – is the summing up of a life lived in time and events:  depression, childhood, war, the long post-War.  A witness to the rock-hard integrity of his voice and vision over more than half a century.  -  David Malouf

Review by David Malouf

Thank you for sending the two little volumes of your poems – “The Brown Island” and “The Cave in the Sky” (Picaro Press, 2005).  It was good to see so many familiar pieces in The Brown Island, still looking and feeling so fresh – I’ve always through The Permanent Way one of the most typical and moving of your poems – but even more refreshing to read the new pieces in The Cave in the Sky.   These poems seem to me to have a new transparency and ease, and nobility and quality of immediate memorability that really is the sort of achievement that only comes to a poet, if it comes at all, when he has freed himself of everything except what needs now to be said.  Wonderful to see what you make again – of that early world of yours in Humdingers and Homework at Kalinga, there’s such a strong feeling there of a time that most Australians now know nothing of, when life here was desperately hard for most people, and poverty and dirt, penury, was something most Australians lived with as the essential quality of Australian life out of which what we now take for granted as the Australian character painfully grew.  It’s good to see that so strong expressed here, and to see that there is, for you, still some old anger in it at what some many people – and people close to you – suffered, as well as admiration for what some people preserved from it.  I was also by, yet again, the remaining presence for you – it’s there in every line of yours, I think of the war.  Splendid first three lines of Aladdin and The Ghost!  These are remarkable poems, David, I don’t honestly think you’ve done better.  David (Malouf), 53 Myrtle St Chippendale 2008, 27-11-05