Tuesday poem: ‘I prefer’ by Melinda Smith

February 27, 2012

I prefer

serious illness to surprise
computers to my brother
reading number plates to Christmas morning

straight lines
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

This poem, by Melinda Smith, is written in the voice of an autistic primary school student.  Melinda is another Canberra-based poet.  (There are many of us here, scuttling quietly between the monuments.)

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.

Tuesday Poem

Click the feather. I can’t guarantee flight, but I can guarantee poetry from up to thirty other poets.

6 Responses to “Tuesday poem: ‘I prefer’ by Melinda Smith”

  1. Tim Jones said

    At first I thought this was a poem about me, since I share a number of these preferences: then the hardest-edged of these preferences, like “torture to haircuts” and even more so “rules to freedom”, made me realise that it wasn’t about me … at least, not to the same degree.

    I’m intrigued by the New Zealand connections that pop up in your biography of Melinda … and I think I would enjoying talking with Melinda about her book, too. I shall investigate further – and in the meantime, thanks for posting this excellent poem.

  2. pscottier said

    Whereas for me, none of it seems familiar, Tim, except perhaps that I also prefer submerging my ears in a warm bath to the outrageous indignity of a waterslide.

  3. Yes this poem quietly leads into the depths. I love the line ‘chewing clothes-pegs to talking’ And I too enjoyed the biography of Melinda. And love your comment about Canberra poets’There are many of us here, scuttling quietly between the monuments.’

  4. John Whitworth said

    I thought everybody preferred cricket statistics to Toy Story. Nice poem

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