Book Review / These Things Are Real by Alan Wearne

“This is an authentic work, rich in imagery and colloquialisms; a collection that is a true Australian record.”
Beatriz Copello reviews Alan Wearne’s These Things Are True, a witty collection of short narratives and poetry.

These Things Are Real is an entertaining and well-written book composed of two sections: one of five verse narratives and the other of poetry entitled The Sarsaparilla Writers Group.

Wearne is a multiple award-winning poet and his talent is evident in this collection. The title of the book very well reflects what it contains, the narrative poems are very true to life in a very Australian way and demonstrating a deliciously sarcastic wit.

The poet’s first narrative poetry entitled They Came to Morabbin encapsulates life at its best; we find jealousy, infidelity, conflict and of course gossip. His characters are very well drawn, as the author has a strong sense of balance. For example, one of the characters, Nance, shows her demeanor in just one sentence when she says of herself:

“And if it’s believed I soak my nights in Yalumba
Aspros and Yalumba, I’ll always attend to my kids first,
that’s what widows must be for; and if Nance enjoys a man
for conversation, which she does, she does not need you
or any other putting his hand inside her blouse,
now if ever.”

The reader will find in these narrative poems politics of the past, philosophical thoughts, and some expletive language which will not shock anyone because these are words heard everywhere. It is in all this that Wearne’s talent resides and brings reality to the reader. The poet is an observer of life, of the everyday, of interactions, of real people.

In Anger Management: A South Coast Tale, Wearne cleverly portrays a woman who is a victim of domestic violence, with skill and without melodrama he demonstrates his understanding of the ‘cycle of violence’.

Wearne develops the plots of his narrative poetry in a smooth and coherent way. His descriptions are vivid and rich, as in Memories of a Ceb, where he says:

“The flat seems neat; half a dozen LP covers
are pinned at arty angles, whilst there
on the bathroom door a full-breasted floosy,
who makes you coy, might well be saying:
‘Don’t know what I’m doing here … You though
want to run of just to return … correct?”

The Sarsaparilla Writers Centre contains a rich collection of poems about many interesting characters and poets, some well-known, others just emerging in the writing scene (if you are a poet check out if you figure there). Wearne is not afraid to tell it like it is, whether praising or criticizing, and of course he is not scared to use more than one colourful epithet. In The Ballad of Easy Listening the poet says:

“And so they soothed through palace, shack:
unobtrusive, beige, mel-low.
With little now but thumping thwack
where’d all that easy listening go

which played it bland yet unsurpassed?
Well look out here’s that corporate hack
(tin-eared, philistined, half-arsed)
who had the gall to give the sack
to Mancini, Bacharack.”

The poems in These Things Are Real will amuse you with the many topics that the author writes about, whether football, music, cricket, or poetry and poets. This is an authentic work, rich in imagery and colloquialisms; a collection that is a true Australian record.

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