Tag Archives: Todd Swift

Two ways of looking at Maggot

The Weekend Australian ran a review of Paul Muldoon’s eleventh poetry collection, Maggot (a book which has been making many ‘best of the year lists’).

The review, written by UQP Poetry Editor, Felicity Plunkett opens by taking a scientific view of this most often despised little wriggler:

MAGGOTS burgeon where form and flesh disintegrate. Because they only consume necrotic tissue, maggots are sometimes introduced into wounds to initiate the healing process.

And I am sure that many will share Plunkett’s trepidation as she intially questions, what maggots have to do with poetry. But by the end, Plunkett assures us that,

Muldoon dazzlingly replaces this with another question: what don’t maggots have to do with poetry?

It’s a review that sent me off on a search to find out more, so I have to say it did its job well. That’s where things get interesting…

In my travels I came across a second review of Maggot by Todd Swift. This is a review in the shape of a poem; a whirling response, triggered by the reading of Muldoon’s collection.

So sounding like a poet you’re not is like igniting a spark
That was already burning; looping ancient learning;
Unrolling dead scrolls – doh! – from their guarded dome;

Returning home got-up like St Jerome clutching a jeroboam;
Every grain that grates the oyster or grit that grists the mill
Is a million-to-one bet that your style is golden

You couldn’t find two more different ways of coming to the book, but again, if this is what it stirs inside of Swift, then I wouldn’t mind a dose of the same.

I would love to hear your thoughts on these two ways of approaching Maggot. I am sure many would argue that Swift’s is not a review at all… but, in short, I think I need to make room for a copy of Maggot on my bookshelves.


Filed under poetry & publishing

Time to unravel – British Sea Power, Neruda & Bachinsky

It’s been a long week, but now it’s Saturday and the sun is warming my back as I type… time to unravel. Here’s a few things to ease you in to your weekend. Enjoy it!


British Sea PowerMan of Aran

I love an ambitious project and when I read about this, I knew instantly that I had to check it out. British Sea Power have recorded a soundtrack to a 1934 documentary about Irish fishermen, Man of Aran. The music and visuals combine stillness and grandeur, capturing the raw, unforgiving nature of the sea. This is one of the finds of 2009!


Pablo NerudaTonight I Can Write The Saddest Lines

Andy Garcia sounds like Cohen here…  one of my favourite ever love poems.


Elizabeth BachinskyHome of Sudden Service

Elizabeth Bachinsky is one of the international artists programmed at QLD Poetry Festival 2009. Here’s the title poem from her brilliant collection, Home of Sudden Service. Can’t wait to hear this live!




Filed under discussions, who listens to the radio?

Gloves Off! Poetry vs Literature

In my Saturday morning travels, I came across this great post by Todd Swift.

It took me back to the recent post, Is Poetry Failing?, as again the capitalist concept of success is at the heart of the matter.

“There is a publishing industry… It is a commercial enterprise, endorsed by government bodies, and cultural organisations and affiliated media sponsors, and festivals. Together, it constitutes an “establishment”. On the whole, this system favours the novel, and narrative, over poetry of any kind, and surely, poetry with disrupted syntax. Why is this?”

The short answer… money.

But has fiction won? Swift goes on to argue:

“the truth is, poets buy in, far too much, to the idea… and that its delights and world (of fame and celebrity and film deals) is one they might approximate.”

Sure fame and all its trappings seem pretty damn attractive to all of us some of the time, but in reality, it does not equate to success. Fame is most definitely in bed with entertainment and as Swift says, poetry is a little more radical than that.

As Steve Kilbey says in the introduction to his book Earthed,

“Poetry and all that falls under its ambiguous umbrella, is still relatively pure, still relatively untainted by the eddying currents of supply and demand, dollars and deutschmarks and big, big deals…

There’s no airbrushing or visual enhancement. No distortion pedals, holograms, special effects, negative passive resaerch, hi-con subliminal hooks nor probability studies… it’s only plain old words and in a linear way, it’s probably un-understandable… but there exists something that’s better than mere understanding. It resides in that part of you which is not Earthed.”

Well said SK… may we all remain UnEarthed.

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Filed under poetry & publishing