Review by Various

Poems for America

The collection is remarkable because, at his present age, Rowbotham has embarked on new themes, and given us vignettes of another country that are sharp and strange.  His continued artistic vigour is inspiring to us all.  -  Christopher Koch

The American poems are knotty, sometimes almost fierce, but there is the lyrical quality that becomes, at times, full of echoes of a wealth of resonances, like overtones.  The second half of the book rounds off with a series of wonderful elegies.  A very strong book.  -  Tom Shapcott

The Ebony Gates

These new and wayside poems by David Rowbotham roam the world … He is by his very nature an intercultural poet of the globe embarked on a voyage of discovery … The climax of the collection is the long poem ‘Scheherazade’ written as an apostrophe to the archetype of the story-teller and poet.  She is Rowbotham’s ultimate inspiration, his haunting shade who always demands more of him and his poetry and defines the rifts that fracture the world.  His life is in his poetry and it is rich in romance, daring and determination.  - David Myers

David Rowbotham: New And Selected Poems 1945-1993

David Rowbotham’s standing as a major Australian poet, both here and abroad, is considerable.  This, his New and Selected Poems 1945-93, will introduce a new generation of readers to Rowbotham’s work, and will remind his contemporaries that in this writer a lifetime devoted to poetry has created a new and exciting voice.  Few writers indeed have achieved such a rare range and compass of work … The collection places Rowbotham firmly among significant current voices.  -  Editor Judith Rodriguez (Cover Blurb)

THE WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN:  David Rowbotham is one of Australia’s most neglected poets.  But there is a good chance that this Selected Poems will re-establish him as a poet of real significance.  It is a fascinating book, encompassing changes of style but retaining a distinctive voice .. Rowbotham’s sense of the perspective of his own life becomes clearer and he is able to write about, for example, his war experiences … He seems sensitive to the way in which our lives can be determined by odd early events, so that only from a perspective of age do those experiences not so much make sense as assume their rightful centrality… New and Selected Poems 1945-1993 is such a surprise that it leaves you a bit breathless.  It documents a career which grows from inside and which increases in significance as it expands and develops its own momentum and coherence.  -  Martin Duwell

THE BRISBANE COURIER-MAIL:  This is an overwhelming collection by a major Australian Poet whose art has never received the recognition it so richly deserves … If this is “conservative” poetry, it is the art of life.  Rowbotham addresses himself to the great themes of human existence, and he does so with humility, grace and craftsmanship.  A great many contemporary “poets” would do well to enter is apprenticeship.  This collection demonstrates Rowbotham’s clearly established status as a classical Australian poet.  -  Manfred Jurgensen

AUSTRALIAN BOOK REVIEW:  This is an impressive, solid, deliberate collection… There is a strong sense of an intelligent, if brooding, mind behind the poems… I remember Ken Goodwin’s description of Rowbotham’s word as “edgy, introverted, ill-at-ease… but always toughly intelligent.”  The thirty-seven new poems, collected as ‘Honey Licked from a Thorn’, continue to invoke the notion that poems are part of a process of finding wisdom out of pain and struggle.  Even if it’s only transitory.  David Rowbotham should be nominated for a Patrick White Prize.  His work is considerable, impressive, lifelong, and he has not had due recognition for his contribution to Australian Poetry.  -  David Gilbey

THE TOOWOOMBA CHRONICLE:  Recalling his time as a serviceman during WW2, he writes:”… here is a book by a survivor who served among multitudes of young men and women whose tomb is the South-West Pacific.  Providence gave me what it did not give them – a lifetime.  I hope the book shows I made use of what was given.”  This is very much the mark of the man.  -  David Wadham

PLOUGHMAN AND POET, poems (Lyre Bird Writers, 1954):  “A book that builds into a world – a re-creation of his home country – and a very pleasant sunlit world it is.   I can’t think of any other Australian book of poems that sets down a country town – village, landscape, history;  the continuity of the land in time – so completely and compactly.” – Douglas Stewart, SYDNEY BULLETIN

TOWN AND CITY, short stories (Angus & Robertson, 1956):  “Prose-sketches which can be compared with Daudet’s pastorals.  They have the same regional poetry as Daudet’s and some of the snake-charming magic which Daudet shares with Dickens.”  -  Kenneth Slessor, SYDNEY SUN

THE MAN IN THE JUNGLE, novel (Angus & Robertson, 1964):  “this author has the literary magic to lift the reader from his suburban safety.”  -  Derek Whitelock, SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

“An unexpected Australian moral thriller, it kept me wide awake all the way across the Pacific.  Truly an unexpected book.”  -  Lord Ted Willis (Letter)

BUNGALOW AND HURRICANE, poems Angus & Robertson, 1967):  “It reveals his awareness of the eternally rebuilt house of man.  An absorbing book in its search for identity as an individual in that vast complex of human lives and public events known as history.”  -  Bruce Beaver, S.M.H

THE MAKERS OF THE ARK, poems (Angus & Robertson, 1970):  “His culminating achievement is that of a poet reoccupied with permanence and moving easily across the culture of his own world and the older worlds of Europe and Asia – one consequence being a marked enrichment of subject-matter, another being a sharper demand on the poet’s technical resources which he meets by developing an idiom to match his extended boundaries.”  -  Ronald Dunlop, SOUTHERLY

THE PEN OF FEATHERS, poems (Angus & Robertson, 1971):  “The writer holds out the possibility of some real character being found in the centre for Australian poetry.” – James Tulip, THE AGE

“It shows his deep and mature perception of life.” – Kenneth Slessor, SYDNEY DAILY TELEGRAPH