A Cretive Life

Fremantle Press, 2001

In these new poems Philip Salom writes with great intensity and memory of experience always close to discovery and loss. Working up from this is the value underlying the punning title of the collection – life accretes in these poems. Like the central sequence Preservation – which won the 2000 Newcastle Poetry Prize – the poems are sometimes serious, sometimes humorous, but act as reclamations and enact a preservation from within the space of the personal and cultural flux.
There are also the imaginative and inventive poems as palimpsest: poems which create ironic musings over the hexagrams of the I Ching, and over music and film.

One group of poems revisits the rural experience of his father – and several poems move across the space of father-son – and how memory plays back the drama of our nearest worries and perceptions. But through this disciplined, exciting body of poems runs a major artery of affirmation.

Philip says “A Cretive Life began as a mis-print and became a two part variation on poetry, palimpsests and memory – especially of my parents’ early farming life but then of the merging of realities through dream and memory. “

Praise for A Cretive Life

Salom shows, that in Australian poetry, imaginative fecundity is not solely Les Murray’s domain. His fecundity is a kind of praise, but it is never easy: death, the difficulty of change, and the pains of preservation are always present.

David McCooey, The Age

The connected work that the triple-composition of Alterworld now represents deserves serious critical engagement. More than that, it deserves a wide readership willing to live with, and in, poetry of impressive scope and genuine humanity

Graeme Miles, Cordite 

Salom’s imagination is large and generous. His poems don’t essay their subjects so much as enact them. One of Salom’s strengths is his feel for orchestration, his ability to arrange fluency and eloquence around a dramatic core. Whether he is describing a scene of road rage, the sickening sounds of machinery, or the pealing of Italian bells, he achieves impressive architectonic effects. He is one of those poets able to give his readers the sense they are witnessing his revelations unfold from moment to moment … Salom gets his language to acquire both head and heart in such a way that a reader feels they’ve gained more than just the sum of these. He is writing rich, full-bodies poems which hold numerous rewards for the reader.

Judith Beveridge, Meanjin

Salom comes through his dazzling poems like a Roman on a motor scooter. His poems have a splendid grip on the physical world, its complexity and sheen.  ‘The Family Fig Trees’ is a masterpiece.

Barry Hill, The Australian

Salom writes about things that matter profoundly to him, and writes so urgently and powerfully that he makes them matter to his reader too.

Anthony Miller, The West Australian

A Cretive Life is no longer available from the original publisher, but until final stocks run out, collectors in Australia can still purchase it at low cost from this website.