Tuesday poem: On editing

September 11, 2017

awaw2017.jpg

Irma Gold has written a thoughtful piece about writing her story ‘The Line’ that appears in this year’s Award Winning Australian Writing.

My poem in this book, which covers both prose and poetry, is three lines in length, although I did not write it as a ‘real’ haiku. It won a contest for a poem in 50 characters or less, which means that the emphasis was on what was not spoken as much as the words that appeared. Editing and writing become virtually inseparable when the poem is so short.

I took the ‘How Tweet It Is’ title of the Fellowship of Australian Writers’ contest literally and wrote a poem called ‘The Cat’s New Beard’ which is not in the least bird-friendly. It’s about a cat eating a bird. I won’t post it here, as the book just came out, and I can’t really post an extract of a tiny poem. But here’s another short poem about the process of editing a wee poem about a bird.

Plucking words
too many feathers —
bantam or robin?

Now a bantam is bigger than a robin, just as Batman is bigger than the Boy Wonder, so robin is probably the better option.

I am enjoying reading the book, which contains everything from evocative stories (Irma) to dead canaries (me). Why not purchase one? The editor is Pia Gaardboe.

This little story was the winner of the RedBeard Bakery 50 Words Microfiction Competition, at the Words in Winter Festival, Trentham, Victoria. It is up by link on the Word in Winter site, but I thought I’d post in here now. Prize winning entries in the other categories can be read here. The story had to be exactly 50 words long; hence the rather clipped tone! The theme was ‘Origins’.

Fittest

It was hidden in the op shop, behind fifteen copies of Fifty Shades. First edition Darwin. Original Origin.

He grabbed it from me, paid $5, and ran. I followed, did only what was necessary, and reclaimed the book.

It sold for £100,000.

That’s only fitting, if you think about it.

PS Cottier

murder

I also have a micro-poem just published in Award Winning Australian Poetry (Melbourne Books) which is being launched in Melbourne on the 30th August, at the Athenaeum Library in Collins Street, at 6pm. I went last year and it was a great launch.

So, after two micro awards, I’m obviously getting big in a small way. I received $200 in vouchers from a great bakery in Trentham for the story, which probably works out at a large roll a word, and will have to drive down and stuff myself some glorious and calorific day.

***
And on another note, over at Overland there’s an extended debate about whether ‘bush poetry’ deserves to be included in ‘Best of’ collections. I find it fascinating how this sort of debate tends to attract so many more men more than women; what is it about definitions and certainties? But, anyway, here’s my less than serious contribution.

Mayweather v McGregor was more entertaining
than trying to know poetry by explaining.

It’s all so pugnacious.
(Is rhyming contagious?)

Next week: post-structuralism summarised in a limerick, and semiotics in a haiku.

***
And on yet another, far less frivolous note, send a thought to the home of real haiku, who just had a missile sent over their northern island.

I just had three poems published at Eureka Street called ‘Three aspects of Australian racism’, ‘Doing a Bradbury’, and ‘Release the dogs of scorn!’.

Why not have a read? I was quite angry when I wrote two of them, and I think it shows. Some think that poetry is the loser if there’s too much anger, but I don’t necessarily agree.

A very well-balanced type of poem, where everything is smooth and lovely, and where any aspect of the external world that manages to sneak in seemingly exists only for the benefit of the poet, begins to annoy me very quickly. There’s certainly a place for political poetry of the more obvious sort, so long as it avoids rant and cliché. You can comment at Eureka Street, should you feel so inclined.

And here’s a very cool picture of a giant. I’m not quite uncouth enough to make a political statement out of him. Not this week, anyway.

giant-drink-stream

(For overseas readers, the Bradbury mentioned in one poem is Steven Bradbury, who won Australia’s first Winter Olympics gold medal in a memorable way.)

Forty-league boots

We cross the Pacific
leaping between plastic islands.
Great ballooning whales
squeak beneath our soles,
harpooned by our heels.
We  are the waste-walkers —
everyone her own Jesus.

PS Cottier

under-water

So we’re contributing to the flooding of small Pacific nations, while creating huge floating islands of trash. Gives a whole new meaning to the word recycling. ‘We’, in this context, refers to all the industrial economies that refuse to take global warming seriously.

And I know Jesus walked on water, not convenient piles of trash, but it seemed to make a kind of sense.

Greyhounds release

Let them run —
but run as they would
chasing the wind or their mate
not a screeching curl-tailed baton
flung round the track
in a circular curse.

And let them live —
just as long as greyhounds live
not dispatched for slowness
and spaded into the bush
in a quotidian slaughter
nose to tail, tail to nose.

P.S. Cottier

 

greyhound

So weird to find myself agreeing with a Liberal government…But the Baird Government is right in banning greyhound racing.  (As is the Labor — with a sprinkling of Green — ACT government.)  No decision is ever totally pure, but this ‘sport’ is undeniably cruel, and the sooner it is abolished, the better.

To all those whinging about the attack on the working man (and it is usually categorised in that gender specific way) that the ban represents; note that there is something incredibly insulting in this thinking.  Working class does not mean cruel and unthinking, and unable to act ethically. Most people with pet dogs would shudder to think of them being treated in the way this industry has treated greyhounds (and other animals used as live bait) for years.

My PhD on images of animals in the works of Charles Dickens touched on the history of the RSPCA, and around the time it was created, there were people mounting exactly the same arguments against bans on cock-fighting and the like, categorising such activities as important recreations for the working man.  Implying that the ‘working man’ is necessarily a brutal moron.

The NSW Labor Party, in defending the greyhound racing industry, is showing that it is pathetically out of touch with anything progressive.

The ban, which comes into effect 1 July next year, does open up thinking about how we treat other animals, and that has to be a positive development.  Go, you good thing!

(I know there probably should be an apostrophe in the title, but it looked so bad I removed it.  Fussy.)

UPDATE: October 2016

The Baird NSW Government has changed its mind and decided not to ban this cruel and outdated ‘sport’. Weak and very sad.