Almanac Book Reviews: ‘Sacredly Profane’ – Kevin Densley’s poetry collection




Sacredly Profane:  Kevin Densley


Ginninderra Press 2020


The poetry in Kevin Densley’s most recently published poetry collection, Sacredly Profane is twofold. Many of his poems are personal and heartfelt reflections of significant events during his formative years and later life experiences, relating their profound effect upon him.  Others explore interests and their influences upon him such as the arts – primarily the classics; music, drama, and the literary, while some are more particular in focus, such as bushrangers. Intermingled throughout the poems are recurring themes relating to family, the past, loss and death, and what might have been.


The formative years are deeply felt by Densley. The triumph of upstaging his sporting adversary Billy, was a joyous and satisfying event for him as‘I shattered him like a meringue’, a fabulous use of figurative speech to emphasise Densley’s elation in winning the race in ‘The Day I Broke Billy’.


Nostalgic thoughts of the redundant past, ‘to make a letter box explode’ recalls not only the fun of ‘Cracker Night’ but also the dangers: ‘blind a mate in the eye; blow off one of our fingers’. ‘Sundays in Geelong’ recalls fish and chips by the beach after Mass and ‘…feeding the leftovers to brawling seagulls’ before heading home to watch ‘VFA football on black-and-white TV’ are family rituals fondly embedded in Densley’s memory.


Death is one of the common themes throughout the book. The near-death experience of drowning when five years old haunts Densley with unanswered questions from ‘Near Drowning at St Leonard’s Beach, Victoria, 1967’. Why did his father react the way he did? ‘…we’ve certainly not discussed the time he saved my life. And never will’ Densley recalls.


‘Sea Horse’ is an early experience of a living thing removed from its habitat and dying; ‘it sank to the bottom, too precious to live’. This is a moving and compelling line and one of the best in the book and conveys the sadness of death.


Many of the bushranger related poems deal with death. ‘Ned Kelly’s Last Hours’ recalls his final meal, walking to his execution Ned ‘saw the dray for his dead body’ and shortly ‘…upon the gallows, the petty thief Upjohn did his work’.


‘Sorrento’ is tragic. A poem recalling the death of a strong swimmer taken by shark at the beach visted by Densley with ‘my girlfriend – at – the – time’ who ten years after their painful separation ‘she hanged herself’.


There are lighter moments when a lustful Densley dreams of long-lost Leanne ‘nude in last night’s dream’ echoes of unfulfilled love and the wonder of what could have been.


‘The Great War – AIF Suite’ is a moving tribute to a group of soldiers who gave their lives fighting in the First World War. Some ‘dodged bullets for hours but then became unstrung’ while for another soldier ‘A Turkish sniper’s bullet put a full stop to his words, his life’ reminds reader of the horrors and futility of war.


The poems I have referred to are a few of the many fine examples from Kevin Densley’s wonderful collection of poetry. Full of pathos , they evoke many feelings from the recurring themes generated throughout the poems. They are succinct in their telling, these poems are heartfelt, emotional accounts of what is important to Densley, and they are a delight to read.



Details to purchase a copy of Sacredly Profane can be found Here.


Poetry and prose by Kevin Densley can read Here




More poetry from Almanac Poetry can be read HERE


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About Colin Ritchie

Retired teacher who enjoys following the Bombers, listening to music especially Bob Dylan, reading, and swimming.


  1. Kevin Densley says

    Many thanks for your kind words in this review, Col. I’ve enjoyed sharing many of my poems with Almanac readers. It’s been particularly interesting to get their comments, too.

  2. DBalassone says

    Excellent review Col. KD is a poet on top of his craft who words have delighted the Almanac for some time now.

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