Author(s): Homer Rieth
The Garden of Earth is told in Thirty Five Books. Each canto is a long-breathed sentence that takes you in its flow. They gather all the hues of nature, history, culture and philosophy like metaphorical rivers gathering majestic detritus. It invites us to consider the plenitude of the world, but also how precious and precarious a thing this is. Homer Rieth's first epic Wimmera gave voice to the history, legend and folklore of the Wimmera region of north western Victoria, and to ideas of 'place' and 'country' not only as cultural markers, but as ciphers of an enduring mythos. In his new companion epic, he turns his gaze to the larger arena of the Murray Darling, to this oldest of continents more broadly. He offers a vision of the natural environment and the human world as bound together on a global scale. The Garden of Earth is a hymn to and argument in defence of the future of the planet. It is the poet's final assay of our age-old dream vision of the world, only here it is as something at once luminous and exceptionally Australian.
Homer Manfred Rieth was born in Stuttgart in 1947, of German and Georgian parents. He came to Australia in 1952. He was educated at Padua and Assumption Colleges and, following a short period in the Jesuit novitiate at Loyola, Watsonia, at the University of Melbourne. Since 1999 he has made his home in the Wimmera township of Minyip. He has been a teacher of Greek and Roman literature and philosophy, English literature and medieval and modern history. He has traveled through Mediterranean lands, including a sojourn in the monasteries of the Holy Mountain of Athos in Greece and has tutored in Spain and the UK. He lectured in Classical Studies in the Greek-Australia Centre at RMIT University, and also held the Honorary Chair of the Melbourne Poets Union. He has three daughters and a son. His awards include the Deakin Literary Society Prose Prize (1994) and the Australian Poetry Cup (1998). His collection The Dining Car Scene was published in 2001. Wimmera is an epic poem spanning over three hundred pages. He completed a Doctorate in Creative Literature at the University of Ballarat, which incorporated an earlier version of Wimmera and an exegesis exploring the history of the epic genre and its relationship to Australian landscape poetry. He is currently researching materials for a second epic, The Garden of Earthly Sorrows, a sustained poetic rhapsody and tone poem, with accompanying musical score, for which he received a grant from the Literature Board of the Australia Council for 2010 and from Arts Victoria in 2012 (see below). While working on The Garden of Earth Rieth has completed a collection of sonnets, 150 Motets, published by Black Pepper in 2013. In 2013 Homer Rieth won the Max Harris Poetry Award from the University of South Australia for his poem 'Ode to Evening'. The judges were Judith Beveridge and Kevin Brophy. Their comments were: A poem that manages to be musical, receptive to the world, deeply metaphoric, and incisive about values all at once. The sustained rhythm, repetition and detailed imagery are beautifully alluring and hypnotic. The poet keeps the poem buoyant and elegant through use of long-breathed line that enacts time's cyclical movements. The poet demonstrates exquisite control of craft and subject matter.