Barbecue of the Primitives

Fremantle Press, 1989


  • 1990 National Book Council Banjo Awards

  • 1990 Western Australian Literary Award for Poetry

Philip Salom’s fourth collection of poems is strong testimony to his adroit control and originality of perception The range so evident in his previous books combines here with a more personal voice to reveal an increasingly intense and powerful exploration of language and behaviour.

These poems focus especially on the spirit of the city and the universal conditions of desire and communication, turning away at times to more subtle and emotional themes of family relationships.

 A true miscellany, poems based on city, family and country, with special emphasis on the experiences and vulnerabilities of lovers, parents, mothers. Again, a contrast between the local and the international, with some expansive poems on wheatbelt life and land, and poems of singers, composers and others.

Praise for Barbecue of the Primitives

Salom is able to take off on an absorbing flight of thought (rather than fancy) providing the reader with all kinds of tangential insight along the way. It is precisely the scope of the poetic journey that is so engaging. It possesses a richness – thematically and linguistically – that is often drawn from unlikely beginnings.

Simon Patton, ABR

There has always been a marvellous imagistic texture to Salom’s verse. In Barbecue of the Primitives it is characteristically vivid, dense and shimmeringly evocative. An important part of the originality of this book lies in his ability to produce an enlightening strangeness and an illuminating fantasy while focussing on reference points that are, more often than not, part of our shared experience.

Rod Moran, The West Australian

Philip Salom is one of our most rewarding poets. While his latest volume is more personal and direct than Sky Poems or The Projectionist his gift for evocative, exuberant imagery and compelling imaginative connections is still abundantly evident.

Andrew Wallace, Social Alternatives

It is difficult to summarise what Salom writes ‘about’ because his scope is enormous. The chief pleasure in reading these poems is a kind of intellectual stretching peculiarly Salom’s own, although it combines the ingenuity of the metaphysical poets with the sprawl of Les Murray and surrealism.

Tony Lintermans, The Herald Sun

Salom will utilise anything at hand to construct his poetic – the mixing of opposites and incompatibles to reveal something so tangible it is astonishing. Being such a varied work, it is impossible to categorise the ‘type’ of poem contained in Barbecue of the Primitives, suffice it to say they are varied and vigorous, though with a centrality of approach that makes the collection a powerful statement of poetics.

John Kinsella, The Phoenix Review

Barbecue of the Primitives 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.