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

Monday, September 29, 2014

Journals I have read - Australian Poetry Journal: #concrete vol3, no2

This issue of Austalian Poetry's journal is all about concrete poetry. Bronwyn Lea's introduction to this edition, the last edition of the journal that she will be editing, provides some great insight into the value of concrete poetry: "[t]he tiny components of written language are rendered almost invisible to us in our race to extract all-important 'meaning'. But in concrete poetry, language stands in our way: letters and words fight - through scale or arrangement - for visibility" (2014). I think that all poetry insists that we pay attention to each 'tiny component' of language, for in poetry each word and punctuation mark is selected for a particular reason and concrete poetry is not the only form of poetry that explores the aesthetics of words and letters. However, the way that "concrete poetry deals with the relation between the visible form and the intellectual substance of words", as Robert Simanowski puts it, is indeed intriguing (Lea 2014).

As interesting as the theory behind concrete poetry is it is not my favourite form of poetry. The experimentation in the aesthetics of language is sometimes beautiful and sometimes interesting, but I often struggle to understand the meaning behind the word art. Perhaps there is no meaning other than a celebration of the text, or it may be that I am unable to see beyond the visual.

Two poems in the edition that I did find meaning in as well as aesthetic interest are Jill Jones' 'While It Seems' and James Stuart's 'Adrift and Out'.

In 'While It Seems' the persona moves through long grasses: "among the floating mass", "in the spider season". Through the positioning of words, the pace of the poem and her lexicon Jones appeals to all of the senses and reconstructs this place, leaving us there with the wind:
there is not always need for words
to rest           the wind takes the rest
Photographs of emergency radios in remote Australia are the back drop to the poem 'Adrift and Out', which contrasts the "carbon copy windows" of the city with the openness of the outback. Stuart tells of the role that the radio plays in rural Australia, a cry for help in times of emergency and a link to the noise of humanity and a blending of remote and urban living: "words & music / stars smudging / to black water".

You can read Bronwyn Lea's full forward here.

You can purchase the journal here.

You can read more of Jill Jones' poetry at

You can read another review of this edition at Rochford Street Review here.

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