Following Leunig and Lansdown : Poems by Elizabeth Lewis in the Tradition of Single Image Poetry

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours


School of Communications and Arts


Faculty of Education & Arts


The creative component of my Honours thesis is a collection of original poems written in the tradition of 'single image poetry'. Single image poems are poems that employ precise, vivid and accessible language to create a single image with the potential to engage readers emotionally and intellectually. They allow the general Australian readership access to the sense of revelation, self-discovery or self-reflection that comes from recognising oneself or one's experience in a poem. The Imagist leader and poet Ezra Pound described an image as: ... that which presents an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time ... It is the presence of such a "complex" instantaneously which gives that sense of sudden liberation; that sense of freedom from time limits and space limits; that sense of sudden growth ... (Pound, n.d., p.l) His ideas were echoed ninety years later by Helen Gamer describing the effect poet-cartoonist Michael Leunig's work has on his audience: ... the adrenalin rush we experience in our initial response to a poem or a piece of music 'where sweets compacted lie': it is a sudden release of the complex force that the work condenses. (Gamer, 2002, p.2) The effectiveness of precise, vivid and accessible language used to make a poetic image relevant to readers, as professed by Ezra Pound, Raymond Carver, William Carlos Williams, R.D. Fitzgerald and C. Day Lewis, has been put into practice by contemporary Australian poets such as Michael Leunig, Andrew Lansdown, Brad Jackel, Joanna Preston and Tessa Morris-Suzuki. My thesis essay considers evidence for a tradition of single image poetry, some examples of the contemporary Australian manifestation of this tradition and how my own poems follow the tradition of single image poetry.

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