Presented in four parts, In the Real World is concerned with various places, some of them historical, and literary, many of them actual. This collection acknowledges the incessant play of language in its capacity to suggest not only places and times but also some of the ways in which, as writers and readers, we attempt to represent them. Part I explores particular aspects of Italian landscape, art and culture. In Part II, literature and painting are the primary fields of reference. Addressing Justin Clemens' The Mundiad, the long poem of Part III acknowledges the great eighteenth-century English satirist, Alexander Pope, and Part IV presents intersections between imagination and mainly Australian locations.
In the words of one of his own poems, Brian Edwards is 'an architect of history' - and a consummate one. His poetry doesn't dwell in the past, its culture, its literature and its homely detail, so much as render such intense and detailed consciousness of it that any distance between it and the present seems somehow artificial. All done with technical skill and liveliness of the first order.
This collection's title is a teaser. Although many of these poems do evoke - often effusively - places that appear on maps of the 'real world' (from Umbrian hill towns to the paddocks and coasts of rural Victoria), Brian Edwards populates them with lolloping figures from myth and literary narrative, so that they turn into 'a landscape of stories / with inflections as fresh as dewfall.'