Rae Desmond Jones (11 August 1941 – 27 June 2017) was an Australian poet, novelist, short story writer and politician.
Rae Desmond Jones was born in the mining town of Broken Hill in the far West of New South Wales. Although many of his poems and stories are concerned with urban experience, he always felt that desert landscapes were central to his language and perception. He wrote in colloquial language, which sometimes exploded in powerful narratives packed with ambiguous sexual and violent imagery, especially in his earlier poems and some of his novels. His original and bleak vision was frequently mediated by gusts of earthy humour and unexpected sensitivity and honesty.
He became a popular mayor of Ashfield, an inner Sydney Municipality, from 2004 to 2006, and during that period held together a broad coalition of Labor Party, Green and Independent representatives. He said that for him “poetry and politics are mutually contradictory, and he finds consolation from each in the arms of the other.”
Flying Islands Pocket Poet Publications
Decline and Fall
When I got a hold of Rae Desmond Jones’ pocket-sized collection Decline and Fall I knew from the moment I opened it and began reading I was in for an interesting and affecting ride. Yes, I’m a fan, and I was excited at the prospect of a small gathering of his previously published works (this was, of course, prior to his recent New and Selected Poems, It Comes from All Direction Grand Parade Poets, 2013).
To those who read Australian poetry, Jones is a fascinating presence, who has carved out his place in our literature as a unique, important and challenging voice, simultaneously relevant and visionary, often writing outside of the usual subjects or taking them from an obscure angle, and addressing those that are so often shied away from. Just look at Jones’ infamous poem “The Deadshits”, for example, which narrates a gang rape through the eyes of one of the perpetrators. Not Wordworth’s usual choice of subject, that’s for sure, but this is what distances Jones from the pack and makes him increasingly special, if that’s the right word. Although this poem is not included in Decline and Fall, there are plenty of others that address the unaddressable in a way that is intelligent, beautiful, humorous and more often than not, haunting.
Continue reading review by Robbie Coburn at rochfordstreetreview.com/2014/01/10/let-there-be-war-between-us-robbie-coburn-reviews-decline-and-fall-by-rae-desmond-jones/