Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Tuesday Poem - 'Afterword' by Robyn Rowland


i.m. Seamus Heaney, April 13 1939 – August 30 2013

It was the week after your funeral mass.

Your poem Postscript was meandering through my memory,

with your government of the tongue, your message about voice,

unique sound of a poet come into themselves.

I was re-arriving, driving from Clifden,

the road you knew well, out

along the marbled spine of our peninsula,

jetlagged, neither here nor there.

Packed overgrowth from summer was so full

compared to the stark cold spring I left earlier in the year,

when you were reading and writing, knowing already

tomorrows are best left uncounted.

It was a soft day but no wind to blow the dust off a long trip,

no hurry in the low-slung sky,

a slight hush in the lightly wet wheels.

Air had been thoroughly soaked and a

county-full of spiders busy at work.

The land was hung as if for Christmas –

every tip of gorse branch, each dip of lavender heath,

every vacant space between the cups of fuchsia,

was glitter-strung. Thousands of webs, millions of drops,

netted a tinselled land, branches rising

as shimmering limbs from the bog,

or perhaps heaven had laid out a lacy crystal cloth

that angels at play dropped careless beneath long hugging clouds,

and the trees, reaching up, had torn it about themselves

in bliss at their lovely ornament.

Or maybe, for a small moment, the earth,

feeling aged beyond counting, had

webbed-over with wearied loss,

grown ancient at your death.

Robyn Rowland © from Line of Drift, Doire Press, Galway Ireland, 2015

Third generation Irish-Australian, Dr Robyn Rowland AO  has been reading and teaching in Ireland for 32 years.  A citizen of both countries, she lives in the two places equally.

Robyn has previously published ten books, seven of poetry, with two further books forthcoming in 2015: Line of drift, emerging from her life in both Ireland and Australia (Doire Press, Galway, Ireland) and This Intimate War. Gallipoli/Canakkale 1915 –  içli dışlı bir savaş. Gelibolu/Çanakkale 1915 (Australia and Turkey). The latter, based in historical research, represents the experience of both Australians and Ottoman Turks during that war. It is bi-lingual, with translations by Assoc Professor Dr Mehmet Ali Çelikel from Pamukkale University.

Line of Drift has just come out - congratulations, Robyn! You can purchase Line of Drift, (free postage!) Doire Press Galway at http://www.doirepress.com/writers/k-z/robyn_rowland/ 

I've been taking part in the Iowa Writer's Centre online poetry MOOC - and the linebreaks in the current Tuesday Poem, 'Albert Park' by Alice Miller interest me. Have a look and see what you think - I agree with the guest editor, Saradha Koirala that they invite you to read the poem in different ways.

Phew! Good to be back at the blog....

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

No tuesday poem from me

I've been laid low, laid out and pulverised by a head cold. At certain times during the past week and a bit I've felt up to enjoying being sick in that slightly masochistic way one can, surrounded by gently cooling cups of fragrant herb teas and unread books, but I'm over it. I want robust coffee, curries and something strident and galvanising to read.

So, while we're waiting for the Muse to attack, leap over to the Tuesday Poem blog where you can read 'In Carbondale' by Cliff Fell, this week's featured poet curated by Harvey Molloy who writes great liner notes! Enjoy the poetic feast, my starvelings.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tuesday Poem


Why did the day break before it began?
The dream still fermenting, the sudden rain?
Then you, muttering behind the door
you jerked shut.

I walked around the man-made lake.
A cormorant dived, making the water dance.
I was not lonely as I pieced the day back;
         this corner of sky
         a piece of green bench
         that edge of dark wing.

Catherine Bateson, 14/04/2015

This poem was, partly, inspired by the first class of How Writers Write Poetry which is a Canvas MOOC from the International Writing Programme from the University of  Iowa. Robert Hass is one of the first group of poets to talk about 'Notebooking, Sketching, Drafting' which is Session One of the course. I had heard him before as I enrolled in this MOOC last year, as well. This year they seem to have added some poets and I so enjoyed it last year, I didn't mind hearing the sessions again. Hass suggests beginning a (two-line) poem with a question and then answering it. I'd been fussing around with this poem all afternoon, trying to make it work and going off on tangents. Finally, after watching the video, it came together.

I like questions. I try to use them in my everyday communications, too. They open up possibilities.

As does the featured Tuesday poem. This week it is Leilani Tamu with a powerful, plainsong poem, 'Aotearoa Runaway'. You can read an article  by Tamu here - and it is interesting to read this alongside the poem, not only because it talks about incidents in the poem but because it displays another side of Tamu's writing. 'Aotearoa Runaway' has been curated by Tulia Thompson, and she provides a  perceptive commentary. Please read it.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Eek - behind!

I'm lagging behind with NaNoWriPo - two days with no poems. But I'm pretty philosophical about that. Here's the 7th poem - written on Wednesday 7th April.

Death's Mid-Wife

How we love David Attenborough.
He is god's voice. The dinosaurs,
woolly mammoth and moas
would reform instantly, grow hide
and feathers for his beaming approval
if only they could hear his rich wonder
at their very bones.
When I die, I want his voice
counting me out, death's perfect mid-wife,
delivering me back to mingle with the endlessly
marvellous earth. 

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Tuesday Poem


Cockatoos wheel and tilt in
delighting the fearful tourists
who hold out dishes of seed
as the birds, all beak, gnarly claws
and greed, ruffle their feathers on parade.
Further in the forest small birds flash in and out,
their beserk scolding stops when we speak.
Later it will rain - the sky's iron-grey.
Look up through dizzying stands of mountain ash.
Beneath them, so small,
we are put in our proper place. 

All week, my poems have been filled with birds, forests and sky. We're hosting two young German couchsurfers and, walking with them, I've looked at my own world through tourist eyes. It is beautiful in the Hills and we're supremely lucky to live so close to the forest and to be woken, every morning, by birdsong. Recently, Keith's seen an owl, or a Tawny Frogmouth swooping silently through the night when he's taken Honey, the lab, out for her evening trot. Today the rain's falling but we've already walked and I'm home, wearing the shawl I knitted in Paris and thinking about finishing my Easter socks. Much to be grateful for - including the holidays! (And finishing Chapter 16 of The Novel.) If only I could remember these states of grace when I'm deep in the mire of stress, self-flagellation or just general crankiness.

Do visit the Tuesday Poem. This week it's 'Darkroom' by Erica Goss - and this richly evocative poem is followed by an interview with Goss and her partners in the Media Poetry Studio project. Such an innovative and exciting project! Many thanks to Michelle Elvy for featuring Goss. While you're looking around at poems, take a look here at the work of one of Goss's collaborators in the Media Poetry Studio.

Scultpture by William Ricketts.

Monday, April 06, 2015

April Poem 5

from: 'Remember'

Remember you are made of stars
even in the darkest night
or the relentless day,
shining up each blemish.
It is difficult to imagine -
the stars so far away
you with psoriasis,
perhaps, or just bad skin
and hair that won't and don't
talk to me about breasts, thighs
or even feet can be problematic....

Poem 4

The crows gather in the carpark
cough like old men.
Some days here - just here -
feels like the top of the world,
despite the supermarket and broken glass.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

April Poem 3

from: 'Autumn'

The cups are on their saucers
the dog sleeps at one end of the rug
the house minds its manners,
steadies for the winter we'll fill
with soup and thrillers.