marsi ( 18 july 1959)
kally told me yesterday some of her ideas
about 'writing': paper by bed jot anything
down organise! simplify! be clear!!!
she then lectured at length about polishing
the gem but does it 'convey' does it 'say'
what I mean (this is where I am now) no
writing is easy but no sentence will stray
onto page until one picks up pen! I know
themes are a problem (and they may be my
biggest) and so I have done some thought:
'housekeepers' / 'passers-by' / 'view from my
window' / a few 'historical sketches' about
early kew (anyway to bed for this is a
start and then to wake up! and be clear)
from Jordie Albiston, the sonnet according to 'm', John Leonard Press, 2009.
Jordie Albiston is a formalist poet working in Melbourne. the sonnet according to 'm' explores three lives; those of her maternal grandmother, her paternal great-great grandmother and her own in this poetry sequence. The voices are distinct, observant and restrained by history and beliefs. The 'marsi' poems written in the first person depict a middle-class woman struggling politely against the constraints of age and a predictable life and marriage:
... my new
brown and white dress was finished today
how many hours of my I wondered played
out in its work just a few more than a few
tho what matters most is satisfaction in the
There's something I love about these women's voices - hopeful, resigned, desolate - but wryly so and, in the end, indomitable.
sonnets according to 'm' won the 2010 NSW Premier's Prize for Poetry. It is Albiston's fifth collection of poetry. Other collections to look out for include, Vertigo, Botany Bay Document and The Hanging of Jean Lee. You can read an interview with Jordie Albiston here.
Thank you, Jordie, for permission to post one of your poems as a Tuesday Poem.
Find more Tuesday Poems here.