February 27, 2012
serious illness to surprise
computers to my brother
reading number plates to Christmas morning
submerging my ears in a warm bath to waterslides
deep fat fryers to matchbox cars
torture to haircuts
libraries to birthday parties
standing ankle-deep in ocean
tenpin bowling to climbing trees
looking at things out of the corner of my eye
Sonic the Hedgehog to family time
death to dentist visits
my mother with her glasses off
plastic wheelie bins to petting zoos
not to see my school friends outside of school
cricket statistics to Toy Story
chewing clothes-pegs to talking
rules to freedom
truth to sarcasm
to be left alone
She has been widely published in magazines, newspapers and anthologies and her poems have also been set to music, hung on gallery walls, printed on postcards and displayed on Canberra’s buses. (Although not, I believe, the same poem simultaneously, more’s the pity.) She has also appeared in the Random House NZ parenting poem anthology Swings and Roundabouts and recently had a poem in the Marginalisation issue of Blackmail Press. She has two books out with Ginninderra Press (Pushing thirty, wearing seventeen and Mapless in Underland) and has a third coming out in April 2012, called First…Then… . This is a book of poems about autism and has an NZ connection: Kapiti Coast poet (and GP) Glenn Colquhoun read an early draft of one of the poems in 2010 and told her that it needed to be a book. You can catch a sneak preview of the book here and Melinda’s general poetry blog is here.
The poem above will be included in First…Then… and you will be able to order the book direct from the Ginninderra Press website, when it becomes available in April. I’ll post here when it’s available for order, and any other options for purchase.
I would like to thank Melinda for allowing me to post her quietly haunting poem. I was pleasantly surprised by the references to cricket and ten-pin bowling, which stopped this being the first post in the last five hundred years in which sport did not make an appearance on my blog.
I think it’s time for politics here, though, next post.
Click the feather. I can’t guarantee flight, but I can guarantee poetry from up to thirty other poets.
February 21, 2012
Watching Les Murray
(I am not making this up)
I went to hear a certain poet
the best known one,
the big one we own.
I wished I could draw
his gentle circles,
his particular infinity.
But I can’t draw.
Though there were pencils.
Giant ones. Three metres tall. Red.
I am not making this up.
So I sat and watched Les,
dwarfed by these giant pencils.
And if you don’t believe that,
you won’t believe this;
the place where he read
was called The Gods.
So I sat, a poet from Lilliput,
leaning on a giant pencil,
listening to God, or at least,
his Southern emissary.
I laid wistful eggs on the pencils.
In time, something may emerge,
and help me make something up.
I went to see Les Murray read at the Gods, a café/restaurant on the Australian National University campus on Wednesday, 15th February. Organised, as always, by the indefatigable Geoff Page. There are giant pencils attached to the walls of the café, as you can see in this appalling photo:
Les Murray is so very good as a reader, and I was impressed by how many humorous poems he read last week. I wrote the poem above about four years ago, when I was just starting to make contact with my fellow poets (but before my licence was issued, in the form of my first book). It recalls a much shyer Penelope, sitting in the corner, watching Les read.
Another poet at Les’s reading was Mark Tredinnick, who, as you may know, recently won the Montreal Poetry Prize for his poem, ‘Walking Underwater’. Mark is of course endlessly teased now by cruel people (who shall remain nameless) about how he is spending the prize money, but he takes it very well.
All in all, this was a wonderful night and it reminded me of just how good poetry can be. As Les Murray said, poetry is strong stuff, and it doesn’t need the crutch of prose to justify itself.
Easy for you to say, Les!
On a totally unrelated issue, my review of ‘A Tingling Catch’ : A Century of New Zealand Cricket Poems 1864-2009, ed. Mark Pirie, Wellington: HeadworX, 2010 has just been published at Cordite. Those who were worried that I was going to write a post without mentioning sport can now breathe more easily. Although watching poets read (and listening to them, too) has aspects of a sport about it.
February 17, 2012
I just had a poem on this very useful topic published at Eureka Street. So if you would like a quick education on wrestling holds (including the Frankensteiner, a personal favourite of mine since the nineteenth century) why not have a look? Click here to have ring-side seats. There is also a lovely poem by Melbourne’s Barry Gittins.
February 15, 2012
For all those occasionally frustrated by the financial aspects of poetry (that is, working your guts out for love alone, just hoping that your poem may reach another person, somewhere) please check out the poetic contribution from mining magnate Gina Rinehart, ‘Australia’s richest woman’, and be consoled that money and art do not walk hand in hand. She donated the rock that the poem is attached to. The rock is a little less shiny than the poem. And a little less clunky. This link is to an often wonderful (and sometimes scurrilous) site called The Worst of Perth, where you can read the poem ‘Our Future’ in all its iron awe, as it appears in situ. Go ahead and enjoy!
But it rhymes, so it must be real poetry…The fact that this was put up in a public place confirms to me that Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory are Very Different Places. But as Ms Rinehart points out in her poem:
‘Our nation needs special economic zones and wiser government before it is too late.’
February 13, 2012
[The LORD] taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man.
Now that’s perfection. He never emits
a single groan, moves just enough,
seems to have a sixth sense about
those lines. That’s a subject worthy
of worship. His legs are thin, I see,
a little like mine. After match speeches
all listened to with bated breath.
Catches minds like fish. Mild and fair.
I wish Someone would sent lightning,
make that thick black hair echidna itself.
Just a bit. I was crucified, never got half
this much adulation. He looks a lot
better in shorts though, that’s true.
Though not like that other Rafael.
Everyone delights in his angel-legs.
Oh well, who cares?
Pass the strawberries.
Part of a series in which a character called Modern Jesus is just as world-weary and cynical as the rest of us. Started out from that weird line in Psalm 147 about God not delighting in legs. Ended in fruit.