Monthly Archives

February 2015

International Women’s Day

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Another International Women’s Day beckons with the theme Make it Happen. Each year I wonder about the women who inspired this poem and these girls from Queen Salote College. Where are you now?

International Women’s Day

Women’s voices drift above the palms
across the edge of night, colouring

the Tongan morning with holy songs
a benediction for the waking world.

Filtering through western latitudes
into coffee shops brimming with chatter

the day passes in the telling of stories
the night throbs with the dancing

and stomping of women till the darkness
is full of the sound of breaking glass.

The women who first blessed the day
sit in the glow of the new morning

gouging at coconuts, the white flesh
Falling into a pile of soft wafers.

(In between the dancing)

Signing off on Maisie

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Autographing a book has got to be one of the most satisfying of literary actions. I suppose it’s a sign of acceptance and completion – of accepting that this is what I have been able to do now, of handing the book over, of allowing the created poems to become newly created in the reader’s mind. I am literally signing off.

I listened to Lionel Shriver speaking about her book Big Brother (a very different use of the term from the same named TV series). Shriver argues for the importance of a project; for the heavy person, it might be losing weight, for the novelist, writing the book, but, she asks, what is to happen then?

I think of satisfying poems that encapsulate the notion of project and yet how ambivalent are their endings. In the poem, It’s Late Jennifer Harrison recalls  
Miss Wickham (saying)
That every fisherman is unhappy with his catch
And most happy when he has caught nothing
and, as the narrator watches a fisherman journey homewards, recalls another fisherman leaving the beach and the shells of the abalone.
and the light begins to dry over
all that will be abandoned differently.

Bruce Dawe laments that he did not accept the supportive care that was offered alongside his wife’s palliative care (White-water Rafting and Palliative Care).
I’d have found it easier then to simply hold you
instead of bobbing to and fro so much,
for it was you who seemed to be more tranquil
– and I whom death reached out to touch.

Harrison, Jennifer (1996) Cabramatta/Cudmirraa. Black Pepper Press, Nth Fitzroy, Australia
Dawe, Bruce (2011) Slow-Mo Tsunami and Other Poems Puncher and Wattman, Glebe, Australia

I’m happy to let you know that though I signed off on Maisie in 2012, she is now in her second print run. So if you missed out or would like an extra copy, get in touch via the Contact page of this website.