….
Laugh’d every goblin
When they spied her peeping:
Came towards her hobbling,
Flying, running, leaping,
Puffing and blowing,
Chuckling, clapping, crowing,
Clucking and gobbling,
Mopping and mowing,
Full of airs and graces,
Pulling wry faces,
Demure grimaces,
Cat-like and rat-like,
Ratel- and wombat-like,
Snail-paced in a hurry,
Parrot-voiced and whistler,
Helter skelter, hurry skurry,
Chattering like magpies,
Fluttering like pigeons,
Gliding like fishes,—
Hugg’d her and kiss’d her:
Squeez’d and caress’d her:
Stretch’d up their dishes,
Panniers, and plates:
“Look at our apples
Russet and dun,
Bob at our cherries,
Bite at our peaches,
Citrons and dates,
Grapes for the asking,
Pears red with basking
Out in the sun,
Plums on their twigs;
Pluck them and suck them,
Pomegranates, figs.”—

peaches

That extract tells of Lizzie visiting the goblins in an attempt to save her sister, Laura, who has feasted on the goblins’ fruit. I find it fascinating that the wombat is mentioned in this poem; the goblins’ appearance is not limited by mere geography. A ratel is a honey-badger, by the way, also found far from England (except in zoos). The full poem can be read here.

The use of verbs alone from ‘flying’ to ‘mowing’ sounds modern, somehow. This is one of my favourite poems. It has been analysed so much, yet remains fresh as an addictive peach.

Skiing for the first time is like…

…strapping a fake pelican’s bill to your face
and being told go fish, go now, go quick!

And the sardines are fifty metres below
and the waves are all like Teahupo’o,

but icy as the Atlantic, not tropical Tahitian,
so you can’t feel your new prow because it’s frozen

to your nose. It’s growing, speedy as Pinocchio’s,
this aberrant beak, and you wish that you had lied

and pleaded stomach bugs or swine flu or Death,
who now looms, laughing in pink fluorescent pants

urging you to push off, go now, go quick!
And you gaze down, down to the white fields

soon to be strewn with your broken, severed legs,
punctuating cold pages with exclamatory pain.

Whoosh!!

PS Cottier

demon-pursuer

‘Skiing for the first time is like…’ awarded second prize in the Cooma Feast of Poetry 2009 (Adult open section). Published in Cooma Feast of Poetry chapbook, 2009.

Just a follow up from the mountain themed entry last week. But I have never skied; too much of a wimp, and too little snow. The nearest I’ve been is on a sled; a bit like the guy above.

UPDATE: I previously posted a link to a review I wrote of a history of Australian women’s football, but a reader has informed me that it’s behind a paywall, so I have removed it. So skiing is the only sport here!

Mountain launch

November 4, 2019

I just returned from Blackheath in the Blue Mountains of NSW, where I attended the launch of Mountain Secrets, a new anthology published by Ginninderra Press of South Australia, edited by Joan Fenney.

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Over 70 people attended the launch, which is quite remarkable, given that Blackheath is quite difficult to get to from any of the major capital cities. (Easiest from Sydney, and some people even commute, I believe!) I have a poem in the book called ‘Heat and snow’ about the Mountain pygmy possum, one of many Australian animals threatened by climate change. I was one of many poets to read at the launch.

The book looks and feels fantastic, although I’ve yet to read all the poems. Here is a photo of Stephen Matthews, who, along with Brenda Matthews (who was also celebrating a significant birthday on the day) runs Ginninderra Press. The poet reading is Sandra Renew, another poet from Canberra.

SM and SR

And finally, I have to include this photo of me having a drink at the pub in Blackheath, where a pipe band from Lithgow suddenly entered and started playing. That was a bit of a surprise. I’m not sure if this is a regular gig, or if it was part of the Rhododendron Festival that was also on in Blackheath. Anyway, I restrained myself from requesting ‘It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll’ by AC/DC. Just.

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Next year will be a very exciting one for me in terms of publications. More on that later.

Tuesday poem and reviews

October 28, 2019

A bit of a link-fest this week! Firstly, here’s a link to on-line journal of women’s poetry Not Very Quiet, for a poem called The dusky grasswren, which is what it says on the box. This is not a dusky grass wren.

artist at work

The links to two recent reviews I have written recently; of Jack Charles’s book Jack Charles: Born Again Blakfella, and of Mike Chunn’s A Sharp Left Turn: Notes on a life in music, from Split Enz to Play It Strange. Both reviews were published in The Canberra Times.

I used to review books a fair bit, and it’s great to be doing this again. Quite a different discipline from poetry; entering into a book with an imaginary potential reader as your companion.

Three first world concerns

The scholastic affliction —
virus transmits an urge
to write a PhD

Paleo or vegan diet?
Debate attracts more comments
than Palestine

American spelling triumphs —
well color me cheeks,
what’s wrong with ‘u’?

PS Cottier

sign

This one is inspired by some of the whingey conversations overheard at my local café. Hats off to the woman who was complaining about how expensive marble is in kitchen renovations, as if it was a human rights issue. The second stanza (or pseudo-haiku) is based on newspaper debates on-line.

I do feel an itch of discomfort about American spelling, so the last part is a go at myself. And the sign has no relation to the poem, I think.