Andy White launches his second poetry collection, Stolen Moments (Another Lost Shark Publications) on Saturday August 27 in the Theatre Space of the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts at 4:00pm as part of the session, All Is Roar And Crash. This is one of many events not to be missed at this weekend’s QLD Poetry Festival.
Here’s the second part of our chat, including a poem from the collection to whet your appetite! For those of you who aren’t able to be there in person this weekend for the launch experience, stay tuned for details of how to get your hands on a copy of the book post-launch.
Now, over to Andy!
Do you have a favourite ‘Brisbane poem’ in the collection? What are your memories of writing this poem?
I don’t have a favourite, it’s a bit like the Steve Martin ‘I never smoke marijuana’ sketch. Or having to decide what your favourite time of day is. I’d instinctivelly say ‘breakfast’, but if you pressed me then I’d have to add ‘late at night’. My mum would chime in with ’11pm’ (the time I was born – unsuspecting that this could qualify as ‘early in the evening’). ‘Lunch’ sounds good although sadly it’s an outdated concept. ‘Early afternoon’, ‘late afternoon’ and all of ‘the evening’ have got to be up there in the reckoning too.
So, even though the poem where the chinese spacecraft lands on the magnolia tree – and the one which sticks like frozen marmalade on burnt toast – come to mind, if I’ve got choose one it’s:
in brisbane, when it rains
it’s 3:43 in a brisbane suburb
and I am staying in a
all around me
many-shelved bookcases of delight
containing the true holy writ
of the beat generation
on the radio
water solutions and
a pipeline from the north
the rain starts swiftly
not separate drops but
a deafening sheet of water
confounding drought statistics
blowing talk of pipelines
into the middle of
and just when you think it can’t
the rain on the roof gets louder
and just when you think the poem you are reading
with its list of mundane details
can’t get any longer
it increases in length and adds another verse
and the mundane details improve with each
repetition and you end up
you doubt your own
for lord I have heard the word and
I have felt its power
I have witnessed public anger
emotional severing and
passive acceptance of
the verb the adjective and the
I am in a place where
the word is both king and queen
and metaphor is a holiday destination
where the king and queen go
to take a week off from meaning
from the cruelty of
here and now
then the rain eases
the noise on the roof decreases
the decibels descend
and I am drawn towards sleep
my brain racing with images of
paragraphs and public laughs and
poetry and all its worth
spread out in front of me
like an audience
around a table
Defying the cliche of the modern poet writing poems after breakfast, the first time I read at QPF I decided to drink red wine and stay up late as late as possible. Not on ebay buying anthologies or facebook ‘liking’ youtube clips of Steve McQueen, but writing actual poems.
Or maybe it was the fact that I couldn’t pluck up courage to go back into the room where I was staying, where the walls were lined with books – many of them valuable first editions. All of them bearing down on me from positions of power. Intimidated? N-n-no. Challenged? But of course.
I like staying up listening to people talking on the radio. Not chat or phone-ins, but news radio. Like a lot of musicians, I’ve got music going on in my head all the time anyway, so listening to voices talking is good. Doesn’t get in the way (unless of course you want to get rid of the music in your head – in which case, ‘Total Eclipse Of The Heart’ or ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’ will do the trick).
I like the crescendo of this poem. Preachers always grab my ear – in a real sense (my Northern Irish background) and a purely dramatic one (Burt Lancaster). It’s got the usual mix of a mangled ‘TS Eliot buys a Happy Meal’ reference, Iron Curtain nomenclature, and a series of seemingly random half-rhymes (really just products of a killer combination of internal deafness and a strange accent).
I can exclusively reveal that the two stanzas in italics are the most rewritten of the whole book, and that ‘my brain/racing with images of czechoslovakia and spain’ are my two favourite lines.
There you go – I got to ‘favourites’ in the end. Next I’ll be making lists. For isn’t that what we guys spend hours doing?
A good list can:
1. Waste a good amount of time so you can put off starting to write a poem.
2. Fill up an equal amount of space as a paragraph containing real depth and insight.
3. Tell you a lot about yourself through your reactions to the list. How attracted to/jealous are you of the person writing the list?
4. Inspire you to write your own list which you can send to the writer of the list with a pithy note attached. He or she will then…
5. Write back with a witty and generous riposte, ensuring a happy ending.
Which this is.