November 16, 2016
Faith took a holiday
He hitched down the Hume, or up;
he didn’t tell me. Faith has no fear
of murder, or everyday sleazes
and their boring imprecations.
It’s the ones left behind
who tend to fret. What if,
we say, and perhaps…
as if perhaps isn’t Faith
flipped like a decisive coin,
standing on his head.
As if as if isn’t
closer to for sure
than some might like it to be.
Faith rang me from Melbourne,
(so it was down the Hume)
and said he wanted to look around
a bit longer; catch the trams.
He too remembers
the excellent days of conductors,
with their magical brown bags.
Even Faith feels regret
at the passing of old days;
the spinning of so much
towards the expansive sun
of interconnected drivel.
There is a grace
in not knowing too much,
he said, though Faith would say that,
I suppose. That’s his job.
A kind of conductor
unseen in any tram,
on any route, whatsoever.
Faith will return soon;
I can hear the jingling
just at the edge of thought
and the tune is one
I almost remember.
The brown bag of my
restless, overloaded brain
awaits his presence,
and will sling itself, eager,
over his patient arm.
Like a lot of the world, I’m suffering the post-US election blues, and almost didn’t post this week. The clever amongst you will have noticed that it is Wednesday, not Tuesday, and the weekly schedule has been disrupted. But poetry is fairly unstoppable!
For my overseas readers, the Hume is the major highway linking Melbourne and Sydney. Canberra is just a wee drive from it.
I have no idea why Faith is male in the poem. Perhaps it was some association with Christ? And my phone has just died, which has me longing for the ‘interconnected drivel’ which I decry in the poem, even if I’m avoiding news sites at the moment.
August 22, 2016
I apologise profusely for no original poem today. I am a tad busy at the moment.
Thursday 25th at 7.30, I am reading poetry at Manning Clark House, Tasmania Circle, Griffith. Many of the poems will have first been published on this very blog, or at Project 365 + 1. I will be reading for about 30 minutes, as will Hazel Hall, the other reader. There is an entry fee of $10, I think, which covers wine, some small items of food and the wee literary stuff.
On 27th August (Saturday) I’ll be moderating a discussion on The Poetics of Politics, at the National Library of Australia (a big building by the lake). The immoderators/speakers are Lizz Murphy and Susan Hawthorne, and it happens at 12pm, just after a launch of novelist Kaaron Warren’s new book, The Grief Hole, at the very same library at 11am.
On the 31st August I’ll be going to the launch of Award Winning Australian Writing in Melbourne, and reading a poem, and then attending the announcement of the Australian Catholic University Poetry Competition results the next day. I am short-listed for that, but I don’t think I won a prize this year, for various reasons. Still, they produce a really nice collection of poems short-listed in the competition.
Then I will hopefully get some writing done. Plus I’ll soon be proofreading a new chapbook of poems. More about that later.
September 2, 2015
Alleys don’t exist here. Canberra has no use
for backways streets, for furtive lanes.
Lies are a different matter, but those
architectural commas, those cobbled
night-cart ways have no place amongst
paradise refined into
quintessence of tedium.
I love my new home’s cockatoos,
their hats of lairy scorn, their satire;
sound-beakers of heavy metal
poured into pure blue air.
But I dip my memory’s lid
to the Brunswick park
with forty tail-flagged dogs,
smaller than some Canberra backyards.
So much oomph, so much poo,
and bocce, like a kiss thrown
against the deeper green,
speaking of a bigger world
of coincidence and trust.
I have changed. I no longer miss Melbourne in the way I did when I wrote that poem, about 10 years ago. When I visit Melbourne now, it does not feel like a return home, but a trip to ‘somewhere else’. Even the maps in my mind of how to find things are fading.
When I first came to Canberra I searched for a centre in vain. Now I am enamoured of the space and sky here; a change just beginning in the poem, I think. If I had stayed in Melbourne, I don’t think I would be writing so much poetry, as I had more Things to Do; more distractions. Of course, I have now become more involved in Canberra’s cultural life, but I think the move from Melbourne drove me into my own head a little more than staying would have.
Please don’t misunderstand me. Poetry can be written in a truly urban environment as much as in Canberra’s semi-whateverness. I get truly sick of the fervent rural trend in much contemporary poetry, what I call the Misty Cow School. And last week I felt a retrospective sense of pride to see how many Melburnians ralled against the Border Force* stopping random people to ‘check their papers’. (If they were carrying The Australian, presumably they’d be acceptable…)
But Canberra is my home now, and I feel glad to get off the plane or bus or train here. Zireaux was kind enough to feature a series of my Canberra poems here, with his commentary.
And for further poetry, get on the Poetry Tram. Read the works of the other Tuesday Poets around the world by pressing here.
*Who designed the black uniforms? Or did they just visit a museum of WWII and copy the Nazi uniforms?
August 28, 2015
Just got back from Melbourne where I was awarded third prize in the Australian Catholic University’s Poetry Prize, on the topic ‘Peace, Tolerance and Understanding’. I wrote an angry, occasionally funny poem on the topic, called ‘Route 9’, which I may post at a later date. I tried to embody the way we judge people by appearances in a narrative poem, so my raving on about clothes is almost relevant. I just saw an article in City News about the awards:
(The City is question in Canberra, not Melbourne.)
First prize was awarded to Kristen Lang, and second prize to Josephine Wilson. The judge was Kevin Hart. A lovely book of the poems was produced by the university, with a cover designed by Chandler Brooks-Smith. I think that producing such a book is a great initiative, as it allows a full exploration of the topic. It is humbling to see how good many of the short-listed poets works are; I particularly like ‘Little Pup’ by Heather Taylor Johnson.
Thank you to Moya Pacey, who took the photo, and who has a very strong and intelligent poem in the book.
Prize winners were asked to read our poems right at the end of proceedings. Because of the Copious Free Wine, my brain resembled my dress by that stage…but I managed.
I will put my $1000 towards a new computer, so I can produce more angry and funny poetry about social justice, politics and perceptions. And read them out wearing really quiet dresses.
Speaking of which (I segue like a devil on speed) I am reading at The Gods on September 8, along with Owen Bullock and Melinda Smith. Hopefully the Anglican Church where I scored that dress will be having an early fete this year. But in the meantime, I’m out to ride my bike in the fresh Canberra air, wearing shabby, comfortable jeans.