To be a poet one needs the six P’s – the pencil, the paper, the perception, the passion, the persistence and the unshakable persuasion that the poem is in fact possible and attainable. - Grace Perry

Saturday, June 30, 2012

One Long Summer Afternoon

I have been busy working on my honours thesis the last couple of weeks, so much so that I haven't been able to find any inspiration for writing poetry. So, I have instead been reading. I thought I should share some readings of poetry with you.

David Tacey believes that “…good poetry (contemporary and traditional), is written from a spiritual perspective, and is often a celebration of the spirit of life, society and experience” (2004, p55). For Tacey literary theory has for too long practised secular readings of poetry, neglecting and sometimes refusing to acknowledge the spiritual undertone of much poetry, and it is this spirituality that Tacey believes attracts general readers to poetry (2004). In this sense, Tacey argues that literary critics have been interpreting poetry in a way that opposes a general reader’s interpretation. Tacey views the Australian natural landscape as a key source of spiritual reverence in the twenty-first century stating, “…in Australia, the country of reversals… the celestial realm appears to be ‘below’ us, in the earth itself, in the soil, rocks and plants of this ancient land” (2000, p94). By this premise place-poetry in Australia must be spiritual, displaying a level of intimacy between the poet, speaker, reader and the natural subject of the poetry. One example of such a poem is Australian poet Bruce Beaver’s poem ‘One Long Summer Afternoon’. It is set in Bundanoon, in the Southern Highlands and is aesthetically motivated, describing the visual appeal of lilacs: “…The lilac / lulled me away from dusty heat / to scenes as distant as another / life…” (Beaver 1991, p250). Beaver’s poem is transcendental in that the lilac transports the speaker to another space, where the speaker “…hovered half-in half-out of / myself…” (1991, p250). The representations of nature within Beaver’s poem are used as a metaphor for the speaker’s emotional experience of 'the country'. These emotions are linked to the place, but remain human-centred. The speaker is in awe of the space but is not concerned with the human impact on that space as the speaker drives past cow and sheep farms. Although the speaker does not openly acknowledge, for example, the devastation that hard-hooved cattle may have on the Australian earth does that mean that there cannot be a message of preservation taken from the poem? Jonathan Bate writes that “[i]f mortals dwell in that they save the earth and if poetry is the original admission of dwelling, then poetry is the place where we save the earth” (2000, p283). For Bate place-poetry does benefit the natural place that it engages with, through a connection of the heart with place, and by modelling relationships of praise, spirituality and respect for the natural environment. It is my contention that messages of dwelling are conveyed through recognition of a level of spirituality, or the sacredness of nature, within the poetry. In this sense Beaver's poem, where the speaker is in awe of the lilac flower and surrounding nature of Bundanoon, carries in it an underlying message of preservation. In this time of increasing environmental crisis messages of sustainable living are important for the continuum of species of flora and fauna that may be under threat from climate change and various agricultural, mining and development practices.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Slam Poetry

Friday the 15th of June at Gilbert's I was joined again by Gregory Tome to discuss Susan Stewart's poetry among others. Gregory introduced Stewart to me the week before, but though I enjoyed some of her poems as single pieces I struggled to read her book Red Rover in an entire sitting. This week I have also been reading Dennis McDermott and Peter Minter. These two poets are masters of imagery and language and I am afraid that Stewart's imagery of child hood games and nursery rhymes were obvious and repetitive compared with McDermott and Minter. It was great to talk to Greg about these poet's works and his own poetry.

FAW and SCWC member Ken Challenor and his wife came and had a coffee with me and discussed the process of writing in response to an artwork, as well as writing to a theme. It was lovely to meet Josephine and talk about the writing process with the two of them.

I have been thinking about attempting a slam poem for a while now, but yesterday, while attempting to write a poem on the theme 'Forgotten Days' for the FAW homework I found the perfect inspiration. Here is a first and very rough draft. I need to extend the poem and add some rhyme. My inspiration for this has come from Kasabian's song Days Are Forgotten. The lyrics for this song are absolutely the worst thing I have ever read, but a great starting point for a slam poem, hopefully!

Let’s set ourselves free with a helping of monkey brains
that’d be the way to go. Forgetting
days of our lives and the surfing couch
as we disappear under bleeding stars.
Kasabian get it,
we need to be free.
Put an end to black
too toos, tattoo sleeves
and bathroom tears, cos
we got blood lust
we’re going to live Twilight

Friday, June 8, 2012

8th of June Cafe Poet Residency

Another productive day at Gilbert's yesterday. I wrote a draft ekphrastic poem for an upcoming exhibition at the University of Wollongong Creative Arts Faculty gallery. I won't post the poem, just in case it is good enough to be published as part of the exhibition. But, let me share with you how I went about responding to Gela Samsonidse's artwork. He begins his art works with words and through his work explores the aesthetics of the word, rubbing the words back out. The piece that I have responded to is a charcoal and graphite rendering. I have tried to draw the words, emotions and concepts back out of his image, commenting on the sound of the words and how that relates to the meaning those words hold.

I also, had two people come in to workshop their poetry with me yesterday which was lovely. It was very enjoyable talking with some fellow writers, Berlio and her husband Ron, as well as Gregory Tome.

Yesterday I read a selection of Libby Hathorn's poetry from Talks with my Sakteboard (these can be found on a great blog 'An Australian Poem a Day'). This selection is written for children and is a great read. She uses rhyme and draws upon the everyday life of a school student to craft something, or multiple somethings, that is witty, clever and fun.

Finally, I began writing a poem on the theme of 'The Winter of our Discontent' for the second UOW literary Society Zine. I began by doing a twitter search of this quote and I rate the top tweet as: "now 'really' is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by cheesecake and fork" by @PresumptuousBug.

Saturday, June 2, 2012


I didn't make into the cafe this week, as I was interviewing Shoalhaven poet Mark Miller about his work. I'll post some snip bits of this interview in a couple of weeks, when I have finished collating the wealth of information I gained.

Here is another poem that I wrote last week, to tied you over. It's a little silly, but it was fun. This piece was inspired by Craig Billingham's poem 'The Fan', from Going Down Swinging. A great little poem (Billingham's poem that is...)!


Can you fly?

What a wonder!
Please, let me ponder,
what it would be
to perch in a tree,
wind in my hair,
way up there,
to spread my arms
and prepare to charm,
as I whoop and hook
around for a loop-the-loop...

No, I said, Can you swat that fly?