Tag Archives: Homage and other poems

Desert(ed) Island Poems #6 – Alan Jefferies

Sunday morning is a time of strangeness… remnants of the week prior still swimming somewhere inside us and the prospects of the week ahead beginning to materialise. It is somehow quieter than all other mornings. The perfect space for us to travel in and out of the poems that inhabit the Desert(ed) Island of Alan Jefferies.

 

alan-jefferies

 

Each of the ten Desert(ed) Island poems illustrates for me one of the desirable qualities of poetry. Of course these qualities overlap and many of the poems contain more than one.  These traits are what I look for in poetry, my own and other peoples.

that which we call a rose – Michael Dransfield

Dransfield was probably the first Australian poet that I had a real encounter with. A lot of Australian poetry that I’d read up to the age of 17 had no effect on me whatsoever. Dransfield stopped me. He was a hard one to get past. He remains for me one of only a handful of Australian poets, living or dead, who deserves that title. I’ll always remember reading the poem “Fix” to the prefects in year 12 at Cleveland State High. “Once you’ve become a drug addict, you never want to become anything else”. They were horrified. I learnt then that great poetry can make comfortable people uncomfortable, and in the Land of Snug, that’s not such a bad thing. The quality that this Dransfield poem illustrates for me is directness. Saying how it is without artifice or ploy.

Read the poem here: http://www.sweatywheels.com/Dransfield/rose.html

 

my groupie – Charles Bukowski

Humour is hard to do in poetry.  And I don’t necessarily mean the belly laughs of a stand-up comedian. Irony, understatement, hyperbole,  anything that can lighten the dead weight of seriousness in poetry is, in my view, a good thing. Bukowski did humour well. A little coarse most of the time and incorrect as hell but if you’re looking for someone to lower the tone – Hank’s your man. Levity is the quality this poem exemplifies.

Read the poem here: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/my-groupie/

 

Daddy – Sylvia Plath

I’ve always loved this poem. My affection only deepened when I came across a recording of Plath reading it aloud. Direct, passionate, unbalanced but perfectly poised at the same time. I love the incantation of the nursery rhyme juxtaposed with the dark, somewhat unsettling subject matter. Rhythm is the quality this poem highlights.

Read the poem here: http://www.internal.org/view_poem.phtml?poemID=356
Listen to it here: http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=6hHjctqSBwM

 

The Red Wheelbarrow – William Carlos Williams

This poem illustrates the quality of brevity, which I think is so important in poetry. Not a single word gone to waste, nothing explained, nothing left unsaid.

Read the poem here: http://www.writing.upenn.edu/~afilreis/88/wcw-red-wheel.html

 

In my craft or sullen art – Dylan Thomas

This poem says a lot about the craft of writing poetry and it also reminds us why not to write poetry:

Not for ambition or bread
Or the strut and trade of charms
On the ivory stages

The poem reads like free verse but is actually very structured. Each line has a regular number of syllables and stresses and the final two lines fall into a conventional iambic pattern. Form is an important quality of good poetry and this poem reminds me of that.

Read the poem here: http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/poems/476.html

 

Some people – Rita Ann Higgins

What I like about this poem is that it’s engaged. Engaged with the real world struggles that real people are engaged with.  In my view there are too many poems that are lost in the miasma of all things me. On my desert(ed) island those poems would be banned, along with all other assortments of self-indulgence.

Read the poem here: http://dontstrayfromthepath.tumblr.com/post/63895893

 

Candles – Constantine P Cavafy

Luminosity is for me an important quality of good poetry. Cavafy remains one of my all time favourites. His poems illuminate the subject matter using everyday words and a directness that I very much admire.

Read the poem here: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/candles/

 

Flame Point – Jules Supervielle

Whenever I start a new notebook I handwrite this poem onto the first page. I love it but I struggle to explain why. Read it for yourself.

Flame Point
by Jules Supervielle translated by Allen Mandel Bawm

All his life
he loved to read
by candlelight
and often passed
his hand across
the flame
in order to
persuade
himself that he
was alive
was alive

And since the day
he died
he keeps
a burning candle
at his side
and yet
his hands
he hides

 

Sometime during eternity… – Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Ferlingetti often manages to infuse his poems with lightness and humour and in my opinion these qualities go a long way in poetry. See, I’m already starting to repeat myself.

Read the poem here: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/sometime-during-eternity/

 

Looking for a monk and not finding him – Li Po

Li Po brings all the qualities I like in poetry together in his work. Clear, lyrical, luminous, and engaged – all the qualities that modern Australian poetry for the most part eschews.

Read the poem here: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/looking-for-a-monk-and-not-finding-him/

 

Alan Jefferies reads at Riverbend Books alongside Jessika Tong, Anna Krien & Felicity Plunkett on Tuesday February 24. Details below:

Date: Tuesday 24 February
Location: Riverbend Books, 193 Oxford St. Bulimba
Time: Doors open for the event at 6pm for a 6:30pm start
Tickets: $10 available through Riverbend Books and include sushi and complimentary wine. To purchase tickets, call Riverbend Books on (07) 3899 8555 or book online at www.riverbendbooks.com.au

Spaces are limited so book early to avoid disappointment!

About Alan:

Alan Jefferies was born in Brisbane and grew up in Cleveland. He lived in Sydney and Coalcliff for much of the 80’s and 90’s and obtained degrees in Communication and Writing from the University of Technology, Sydney. In 1998 he moved to Hong Kong where he lived until 2007. With Kit Kelen and Mani Rao he started the spoken word reading OutLoud. In 2002 an anthology of work from these readings was published (Outloud: an anthology of poetry from Outloud readings, Hong Kong). He has published 5 collections of poetry, his most recent being Homage and other poems (Chameleon, 2007). He was recently an invited participant at the ‘Cairo International Forum of Arabic poetry’ and the ‘Tenth International Literature Festival’ in Romania. He now lives in Redland Bay. He keeps a musical alter ego at www.myspace.com/psychicstreetsweepers

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Queensland Poetry Festival presents: Poetry on the Deck

Queensland Poetry Festival, QLD Writers Centre & Riverbend Books are proud to present the first event in this years Riverbend Books Readings. Join us on the Riverbend deck and enjoy the sounds and imagery of award winning poets Anna Krien (2008 Val Vallis Award) and Felicity Plunkett (2008 Thomas Shapcott Award); global traveler Alan Jefferies and emerging Brisbane voice, Jessika Tong.

Date: Tuesday 24 February
Location: Riverbend Books, 193 Oxford St. Bulimba
Time: Doors open for the event at 6pm for a 6:30pm start
Tickets: $10 available through Riverbend Books and include sushi and complimentary wine. To purchase tickets, call Riverbend Books on (07) 3899 8555 or book online at www.riverbendbooks.com.au

Spaces are limited so book early to avoid disappointment!

About the poets:

felicity-plunkett

Felicity Plunkett’s manuscript Vanishing Point won the 2008 Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Prize and is forthcoming with UQP. She is an Honorary Research Consultant at the University of Queensland, where she teaches literature and poetics, and a widely-published reviewer. She has a PhD from the University of Sydney. Her poetry has been published in journals and anthologies including Best Australian Poetry 2008, The Best Australian Poems 2008, Heat, Southerly and Blue Dog, and was awarded Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg prizes in 2006 and 2007.

 

alan-jefferies1

Alan Jefferies was born in Brisbane and grew up in Cleveland. He lived in Sydney and Coalcliff for much of the 80’s and 90’s and obtained degrees in Communication and Writing from the University of Technology, Sydney. In 1998 he moved to Hong Kong where he lived until 2007. With Kit Kelen and Mani Rao he started the spoken word reading OutLoud. In 2002 an anthology of work from these readings was published (Outloud: an anthology of poetry from Outloud readings, Hong Kong). He has published 5 collections of poetry, his most recent being Homage and other poems (Chameleon, 2007). He was recently an invited participant at the ‘Cairo International Forum of Arabic poetry’ and the ‘Tenth International Literature Festival’ in Romania. He now lives in Redland Bay. He keeps a musical alter ego at www.myspace.com/psychicstreetsweepers

 

anna-krien

Anna Krien’s writing has been published in The Big Issue, The Monthly, The Age newspaper, Best Australian Essays 2005 & Best Australian Essays 2006 – published by Black Inc, Griffith Review, Voiceworks, Going Down Swinging, COLORS, Best Australian Stories 2008, and Frankie magazine. Her poem ‘The Last Broadcasters’ won the 2008 Val Vallis Award. Once she had a neurological cat scan, which came back saying she had an unremarkable brain.

 

jessika-tong

Jessika Tong grew up in a small pine village on the Northern Island of New Zealand and has spent most of her adult life in Central and South East Queensland. Jessika has appeared within various literary journals including The Age, The Australian Literature Review, The Westerly, Wet Ink and Verandah22. Her first collection, The Anatomy of Blue was released in December 2008 by Sunline Press. “Astonishingly powerful, her raw imagery says what is often left unsaid or couched in more genteel terms. This poetry drives relentlessly into avoided spaces and territory that remains a wilderness. Confronting and irreverent” (Roland Leach 2008). Jessika is twenty-six and is currently a student at QUT, Brisbane.

 

Watch this space for features on each of these poets in the weeks leading up to this event.

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