AUSTRALIAN BOOK REVIEW (ABR)
Jay Daniel Thompson
December 2020, no. 427
The book’s key strength is its emotional restraint. Goodfellow relays grim and possibly painful memories with nary a skerrick of judgement, self-pity, or melodrama. He demonstrates a devastating knack for bringing to life the minutiae of a bygone era: the social mores and conventions, the sights, the conversations. Consider dialogue such as: ‘Listen Bluey, you’ll want portholes in ya coffin.’ These passages crackle with the sound of retro Australiana.
THE ADELAIDE REVIEW
29 September 2020
Royce Kurmelovs is an Australian freelance journalist and author of The Death of Holden (2016), Rogue Nation (2017) and Boom and Bust (2018).
To talk about Geoff Goodfellow’s work with any insight, it is first necessary to put it into the proper context. Though the stories he tells and the characters he has captured over his long career may well be familiar to many, the eminent poet of everyday life is often misunderstood.
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD (SMH) AND THE AGE
January 15, 2021
It was Ken Kesey who encouraged Geoff Goodfellow to write prose, impressed by his distinctively Australian voice after hearing him read his poetry. Inspired by Kesey’s advice to ‘‘write about little things and invest them with interest’’, Goodfellow spins sometimes gentle, sometimes edgy, yarns from memorable moments in his working-class boyhood. In keeping with a young boy’s perspective, we are given pieces of the puzzle of the adult world – his father’s drinking, nightmares, visits to ‘‘that madhouse ward’’, war service and patience with his son when teaching him to make things with tools. Later we see Goodfellow as a rebellious teenager with a motor bike and finally as a mature man reflecting on the ‘‘savage’’ sport of boxing and the primeval urges that putting on a pair of gloves can unleash.
TASMANIAN ASSOCIATION FOR THE TEACHING OF ENGLISH
Out of Copley Street: A Working-Class Boyhood
"All the hallmarks of Goodfellow’s poetry have more-than survived the transition to prose. His fondness for playing with language is as present as ever with clever puns, rhyming slang and similes aplenty. There’s also attention to detail, dry wit and humorous insight, understatement, and - yes - his trademark brutal honesty. An economical writer, Goodfellow efficiently orients the reader at the start of each story and ends each anecdote with a punchy closing line."
November 23, 2020
Out of Copley Street would make a welcome addition to any Adelaidean’s book collection and will provide a simple read in that Goodfellow style that will bring a wry smile to the face. Put this one on your Christmas wish list or perhaps, surprise a loved one (particularly a parent or grandparent who lived in Adelaide at that time) with a copy. I am sure they will cherish it. Here’s to his next volume of prose.
READ PLUS: REVIEW
September 30, 2020
Out of Copley Street, A working-class boyhood by Geoff Goodfellow
Review by Elizabeth Bondar
This narrative is vividly persuasive, as it becomes evident to the reader that Goodfellow's talent lies in his ability with words, in his vivid evocation of his experiences throughout his childhood and adolescence, seen so vividly in his storytelling. This compelling narrative would be suitable for all readers from early adolescence through to adults.
THE WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN: REVIEW
Nov 21-22, 2020
A PAIR OF RAGGED CLAWS
When it comes to dedications, Geoff Goodfellow's is hard to beat. His childhood memoir, Out of Copley Street: A Working-Class Boyhood, is dedicated to Ken Kesey, the bloke who wrote One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
AUSTRALIAN POETRY JOURNAL
Geoff Goodfellow and
→ Geoff Goodfellow. Opening the Windows to Catch the Sea Breeze: Selected Poems 1983-2011. ISBN 9781743052952. Adelaide: Wakefield, 2014. RRP$24.95
→ Carol Jenkins. Xn. ISBN 9781922186201. Sydney: Puncher and Wattmann, 2013. RRP$25
IN DAILY - ADELAIDE INDEPENDENT NEWS
In a recent review I said of another book that at more than 200 pages and sensibly priced, in the age of the over-priced slim volume of poetry, it was a bumper offering of quantity as well as quality. The same applies here. And if these poems were not to be value enough, then an introductory autobiography could be. In unwavering style, the narrative has eloquence in its bluntness, pathos in its irony.
TRANSNATIONAL LITERATURE VOL. 4 NO. 1
Goodfellow is well known for his working class, straight-talking poetry, famously delivered on building sites and in prison. Two of his great strengths are the no bullshit honesty of his poems and his ability to home in on seemingly ordinary, yet surprisingly poignant details. So it is not surprising that when faced with the challenge of battling that c word, he would slowly peel away the euphemisms like a soiled bandage and expose the raw wound of cancer for what it is.
SA WEEKEND - THE ADVERTISER
A former boxer’s seven-month journey through the trauma of cancer treatment has been documented in poems and photographs as he invites people into a world most of us are afraid to see.
EDITOR AND MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUER
1st June 2011
If you've ever heard Geoff Goodfellow read his poetry, or indeed if you've read any of his books, you know his style - straight, uncompromising, accessible, real. Waltzing With Jack Dancer takes Geoff's work a step further forward, I think. I sat down with it the other day, intending to read a few poems and come back to it later, and ended up reading the whole thing in one sitting.
Mark William Jackson
11th May 2011
Cancer is indiscriminate, picking its battles with seeming randomness. There are hypothesised causes: smoking, drinking, sun etc, but they are not definitive. Cancer picked the wrong fight when it tried to take on Geoff Goodfellow, the man HG Nelson describes as ‘tough nut’. Geoff’s boxing training, working-class background and teenage daughter were three things that cancer didn’t count on.
Waltzing with Jack Dancer: a slow dance with cancer is a collection of narrative poems telling Geoff’s battle with and ultimate victory over cancer of the throat.
CORDITE POETRY REVIEW
For all its appearance of plain speech, Poems for a Dead Father is a finely crafted work that takes the reader on an emotional journey that's never mawkish or sentimental. The tenderness and honesty in this work means that, before you know it, you've let your guard down and copped a punch from Goodfellow-and his Dad.
The sources of poetic power
In Geoff Goodfellow's Poems for a Dead Father there is grief, but also the ambivalence sons feel for fathers. Goodfellow's role as ``working-class poet'' is seen in his taking poetry to building workers. The power of ``working-class writing'' is supposed to come from being direct, not over-burdened with the ``literary''. Goodfellow seems direct enough: autobiographical, demotic in tone. But midway through the book there is a change of tone and approach.
Here’s an excerpted selection of what other critics have had to say:
The poems yarn and take you into a mix of funny, naked, larrikin feeling.
- Barry Hill
The Weekend Australian
Geoff Goodfellow is a master of understatement…
This book represents Goodfellow at his best. Too often, working-class poetry has been used as an excuse for poets who are unable or unwilling to meet the technical demands of the form…Goodfellow shows that the genre can have its own power and integrity.
- Geoff Page
Australian Book Review
What Goodfellow has given us is a robust insight into the vital dynamic of life: Love. Is there a better gift?
- Christopher Bantick
The Sunday Tasmanian
…this work resonates with honesty and immediacy.
- Kay Brindal
…he writes poetry that challenges, evokes, entertains, and yet can move the more sensitive to tears.
- Graham Cornes
This poetry is unmistakenly Australian, working-class and masculine, emerging from deep within a world of Vietnam veterans, drink, death, family, frayed lino, laminex and sex, and the politics of class.
- Lyn McCredden
I have always liked Geoff’s poems, especially his aggressive working-class celebrations with their hearty irreverence and their understanding of how language can pull you in, holus bolus.
- Dr Thomas Shapcott
Good Weekend Magazine
Geoff Goodfellow’s Poems for a Dead Father is a class act. It is simply the best work of a poet at the peak of his poetical power.
- Glen Murdoch
Goodfellow’s self- narrative that winds through his text, his humour and eye for detail, make this rough elegiac cycle powerful.
- David McCooey
He (Goodfellow) has long been an evangelist for the power of poetry to connect with each and every life in a world saturated with sophisticated noise.
- Rosemary Sorensen
The Courier Mail
I loved reading it a second time, and will return to it again, and again. I believe that it will appeal to senior students, both girls and boys, because its tough as well as sensitive…
- Guy Bayly-Jones
Routine work gets a voice
WORKING-class Australians will be struck by the stark honesty of Geoff Goodfellow's poems in this 72-page collection - most likely because the odd passage is likely to strike a chord with a personal experience.
Standing up for the Downtrodden
Geoff's public is not really of the reader class, anyway. He takes his writing out to the people - performing in pubs and on worksites, demystifying the idea of poetry by making it a celebration of prosaism.
THE SUNDAY TASMANIAN
Working-class verse with a punch-line
Geoff Goodfellow could almost be called an honorary Tasmanian. This South Australian-based poet is now doing his annual tour of Tasmania.
Goodfellow is a regular booking for schools, colleges, universities and prisons in Tasmania.