New Devil, New Parish

UQP, St Lucia, Qld,1976. Paperback Poets
Second Series 14
ISBN 0 7022 1241 5 (cloth)
ISBN 0 7022 1242 3 (pbk)

The agony of individuals and society undergoing change is the subject of Alan Wearne’s verse. While his shorter poems capture moments of contemplation, the longer pieces, principally dramatic monologues, are presented in a language as intricate and intensely-wrought as the situations themselves. They hold all the intensity and life of drama. The centrepiece of New Devil, New Parish is “Out Here”, itself a book-length poem. In it nine characters are involved with (or are part of) a family during a process of disintegration. The result, although disconcerting to the reader trained on conventional narrative, is finally and powerfully effective.


…the long poem ‘Out Here’ [is] a feat of endurance as well as skill. It is 2,000 lines long and consists solely of dramatic monologues spoken by nine people thrown together by a knifing incident at a Melbourne high school….the characters that people [Wearne’s] story have so much to say, and say it with such directness and colour that the supposed honesty of much contemporary personal and confessional poetry appears thin and hysterical by comparison. ‘Out Here’ is a very unusual poem, both because its only obvious antecedent is Browning…Wearne owes little to any living writer, yet his work is recognizably modern; his writing shows no trace of any local tradition, yet he is distinctively Australian.’ John Tranter ‘Growing Old Gracefully: The Generation of ‘68’ Meanjin Autumn Vol 37 no 1 1978 (p76-86)

In this first book-length volume, New Devil, New Parish, Alan Wearne gives evidence of a radically original talent… Wearne’s horizons are human: intrigued by manners and fashions, he could almost be mistaken for the Peter Porter… of the Australian sixties. Wearne moulds his reader’s response by the presumption of a shared understanding of what “back issues of CUTE” or “households clothed in Butterick designs” socially mean, and by the abundant references to pop music and the commercial cinema. Yet beneath the allusions to film, pop and chic lurks a brooding contempt for those of his characters who have defined themselves in terms of the acting of roles.Christopher Pollnitz ‘The Sense of an Audience’ Southerly Dec. Vol 37 no 4 1977 (p 446-460)


Neilsen, Philip ‘The Nastiness of Something Out There’ Makar June vol 14 no 2 1980 (p. 51-53)

Robinson, Ludmilla K. [Untitled] LiNQ vol 5 no 3 1977 (p. 74-76)


Some poems in this collection had appeared previously and the book acknowledges the following:
The Age
Australian Poetry 1971
(ed. Chris Wallace-Crabbe, Angus & Robertson)
Australian Poetry Now
(ed. Thomas W. Shapcott, Sun Books)
New Poetry