Leaves of Glass (2013)

My second full-length poetry collection, Leaves of Glass, was released by Sydney-based poetry publisher Puncher and Wattmann.

Leaves of Grass features rewrites of Bernard O'Dowd's poems.
Australian poet and rabid nationalist Bernard O’Dowd.

Inspired by actual correspondence between Walt Whitman (1819–1892) and Bernard O’Dowd (1866–1953), Leaves of Glass features re-imaginings of both poets’ works.

Leaves of Glass was launched at two Puncher and Wattmann events: the first took place in the Bella Union bar in Trades Hall, Melbourne, on 1 December 2013. The second launch took place at the Balmain Town Hall in Sydney on 14 December 2013.

Here’s what two very lovely people, whose work I deeply admire, kindly wrote as testimonials for the book:

Leaves of Glass assembles the shards of a lost and broken correspondence into a jagged lens, and examines imagination and sympathy. Wild, sharp and witty, these poems find their languages in the gaps between letters and the silences between words, and build a radiant, vital and eloquent collection.

—Felicity Plunkett

However one approaches this wonderfully original and sophisticated book, it is Prater’s masterful, often unpredictable use of rhythm and expression, and his effortless fusion of humour with melancholy and lyricism with idiosyncrasy, which mark him not only as an insightful student of culture and history but also as one of the foremost Australian poets of his generation.

—Ali Alizadeh
Leaves of Grass, cover detail.
A detail from the cover of Leaves of Grass, which was designed by Matthew Holt.

Earlier versions of a number of poems in this collection first appeared in various journals including The Age, Blast, Going Down Swinging, Jacket, Southerly, YB, Overland, Cordite Poetry Review, Southerly, PFS Post (USA), Stop, Drop and Roll, Blackbox Manifold (UK) and Jacket 2 (USA). Several have been anthologised, in Best Australian Poems (Black Inc., 2011) and Thirty Australian Poets (UQP, 2011).

‘Walt Whitman Service Area’ and ‘Gaeltacht’ first appeared in Abendland (2006, self-published).

The writing of this collection was made possible by a grant from Arts Victoria in 2007.

Drafts of the majority of the poems in Leaves of Glass were written between March and June 2008 while living in Den Haag, the Netherlands.

Leaves of Glass was reviewed in Australian Book Review, Cordite Poetry Review, the Weekend Australian, Westerly and Southerly.

More than twenty of the letters that O’Dowd and Whitman exchanged between 1889 and 1891 are now held at the State Library of Victoria, including O’Dowd’s first letter to Whitman in 1889, which was never sent.

Leaves of Glass (2013)

Words From The Master
O’Dowd Seeks Whitman
The First Letter
‘I Was The Abortion’
Hitman Cabine
Gang Languid
‘We Don’t Usually Tell . . . ’
Info Rider
Treading: An Air
Red Dawn Ward
Team America
‘The Germ! The Germ!’
Gowayz Ob Lol: ‘O Kitteh! Meh Kitteh!’
W00t Wiitmeh: ‘To A Commawn Pron’
Poet Momentous!
Song Of Me Self
Secret Lib
Lady Land
Stolen Landscape Painting
‘A Chara … Is Mise’
Days Roaring
Ada & Eva
Fir | Mná
Stars In His Heart
Slow-Mo Leaves
Swagman Ted
(Rain On The) Bellbirds
Leaves Of Jazz
Google O’Dubdha
Leaves Of Nagasaki
Missing Whitman
Walt Whitman Service Area
Dead Weight
Funeral For Democracy
Good Bye Walt