Tuesday, September 25, 2012

'revolver' by Samuel Wagan Watson

From my balcony I can read a strong poem that the moon has
pasted on the river. Everything is quiet. Now and then, a wave
breaks the message, temporarily changing the font from bold to
italics. The moon in its crescent appearance is the precision blade
of a Shaolin warrior. I’m concerned that if I gaze too long, I may
carelessly jag my retinas on its razor points, pierced globes adding
vitreous humor into this serious stretch of river. A mullet leaps
from the water and reconstructs the moon’s message; it is now the
sound of one silver hand clapping. Above, an anonymous comet
breaches the sky a small eternity, but shooting stars don’t have the
recoil of a poem executed in the lull of moon fire.

oval mirror lights
               seduction on night-water
                              flagrant moon kisses

from: Samuel Wagan Watson, Smoke Encrypted Whispers, University of Queensland Press, 2004. Reproduced here with permission from the author.

Smoke Encrypted Whispers is a collection of Samuel Wagan Watson's earlier work with the addition of a number of later prose poems. What I loved about these was the sense of the poet moving from prose poetry to the haiku which complete the almost journal-like entries. The later poems in this collection are available as an audio recording with responses from 22 Brisbane composers. When Samuel sent me the collection, he mentioned 'revolver' was his favourite poem in it and I think I agree. I love the wave changing the font, the mullet leap and - having lived in Brisbane by the Brisbane River, I know and love the landscape.

Samuel Wagan Watson is a poet with five published books and two major awards for his writing, the Queensland Premiers Literary Awards, David Unaipon Prize for Unpublished Indigenous Writers (1999) and the NSW Premiers Literary Award, Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry Book of the Year (2005). You can hear him talking about his poetic influences here.

Catherine Bateson is a poet and writer for children and young adults who lives in Melbourne, Australia. You can read her Tuesday poem blog here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hope by Dinah Hawken

It is to do with trees:
being       amongst trees.

It is to do with tree-ferns:
mamaku, ponga, wheki.
Shelter under here
is so easily

You can see that trees
know how it is
to be bound
into the earth
and how it is to rise defiantly
into the sky.

It is to do with death:
the great slip in the valley:
when there is nothing left
but to postpone all travel
and wait
in the low gut of the gully
for water, wind and seeds.

It is to do with waiting.
Shall we wait with trees,
shall we wait with,
for, and under trees
since of all creatures
they know the most
about waiting, and waiting
and slowly strengthening,
is the great thing
in grief, we can do?

It is always bleak
at the beginning
but trees are calm
about nothing
which they believe
will give rise to something
flickering and swaying
as they are: so lucid
is their knowledge of green.

                                       Editor: Keith Westwater

I first met Dinah when I was accepted for her course 'Writing the Landscape' at the IIML at Victoria University of Wellington in 2003 (Tuesday Poem poet Tim Jones was a fellow classmate). I was immediately struck by Dinah's hugely impressive poetry-writing skills and her ability to create a safe writing-critique class environment, something very important to novice writers.

Dinah read 'Hope' to our class and I chose it for Tuesday Poem because it encapsulates so well the emotion and feeling engendered in its title. I also love the way the poem's pace, theme and language echo and capture this feeling.

Victoria University's web site (http://www.victoria.ac.nz/vup/authorinfo/dhawken.aspx) states that, "She is the author of five books - It Has No Sound and Is Blue, which won the 1987 Commonwealth Poetry Prize for Best First Time Published Poet, Small Stories of Devotion; Water, Leaves, Stones and Oh There You Are Tui (2001) which collects the majority of the poems from her earlier books along with a substantial group of new poems.

One Shapely Thing: Poems and Journals was published in April 2006. It was one of three titles shortlisted for Poetry in the Montana New Zealand Book Awards 2007, [as was a sixth title, The leaf-ride, in the 2012 New Zealand Post Poetry Awards].

Dinah was named the 2007 winner of the biennial Lauris Edmond Award for Distinguished Contribution to Poetry in New Zealand."

'Hope' is published on Tuesday Poem with permission and was first published in Water, Leaves, Stones, Victoria University Press, 1995.

This week's editor Keith Westwater is a poet from New Zealand and the author of Tongues of Ash, published in 2011. Visit his Tuesday Poems at his blog and the other Tuesday Poets using our blog list.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tension Rises by Dmitry Golynko, Translated by Cilla McQueen and Jacob Edmond

high tension
you will contrive to play with us
bends over, to
fix on one point

a pantomime character
got toasted in the sun                
none too soon
intoxication sets in
to raise tension
blow the nose, a dried fruit
wrinkled is chewed
and the gruel crawls out

in due course, what in a goddess
doesn’t satisfy a mortal is
a bad smell acquired by her                                                   
through self-contempt
tension will rise, should
you get the hots for, try it
those loosened by paradontosis
masticate in the subconscious

impresses an attraction                                                    
not to the usual filth, such as
blah, blah, to the particular
rhythm tapped out
envy raises tension
pissing envious
where slops on the sly
stream together

pulverized spanners
in the wrong works, still
in the company the joker
started his own bullshit
tension rises when the beam
of the searchlight goes blind, over their faces
the punch spreads
a small haematoma cloud

completely off his head he
got his brains set so straight, turned
all eyes on himself, having butted the punching bag
the fist moved back
the tension is increased by the weather,
slushy, a small piebald pooch
whimpers, pink tongue

in the moment of licking
unknown things, they bought
lots of booze and by agreement
without twisting arms
heightened tension threatens
in the anger of a being of the highest ranks
or a wench’s laughter, gathering strength
from its habit of helplessness

to achieve a good chunk
chopped off, enough
to smooth out the place of removal
and level what is unnecessary

12–16 February 2004

Дмитрий Голынко

Напряжение повышается

напряженье высокое
вы сыграть сумеете с нами
наклоняется над, чтобы
уставиться в одну точку

опереточный персонаж
перегрелся на солнце
чуть позже, чем бы хотелось
опьянение наступает
чтоб напряженье повысить
надо высморкаться, сухофрукт
сморщенный разжеван
и кашица выползает

своим чередом, что в богине
не устраивает смертного, это
дурной запах, ею приобретенный
от пренебреженья к себе
напряженье повысится, если
втрескаться в, попробуйте
расшатанные пародонтозом
пережевывают, в подсознанку

впечаталось влеченье
не к обычной пакости, типа
тыры-пыры, к особенному
дробь отбарабанили
напряжение повышает зависть
писающая кипятком туда
где втихаря помои
сливают в них же самих

перемолотые кости
не в том горле, еще живехонек
в компании приколист
завел свое трали-вали
напряженье повысится, когда луч
прожектора слепнет, по мордасам
данный тумак растекается
облачком гематомы

на всю голову трахнутому
так вправили мозги, и весь внимание
обратил на себя, грушу боднув
кулак двинулся в обратную
напряженье повысит погода
слякотная, песик с подпалинами
поскуливает, розовый язык
приобретает шероховатость

в момент облизывания
незнакомых вещей, накупили
винища и по согласию
без выкручивания рук
повышением напряженья грозит
гнев существа из разряда высших
или бабский смех, набирающий силу
от привычки к беспомощности

чтобы просечь, откуда оттяпан
кусман хороший, достаточно
место отъема подгладить
и ненужное подравнять

12–16 февраля 2004 года

editor: Orchid Tierney

I would like to thank Dmitry Golynko, Cilla McQueen, and Jacob Edmond for allowing me to post this poem and its translation, which first appeared in Landfall 213 (May 2007) and subsequentlly in Ka Mate Ka Ora 11. Click the link to read about how Jacob and Cilla approached the translation process. The poem's new title is "Высокое напряжение" but I have retained the original appellation.

Dmitry Golynko is a poet, literary and art critic whose innovative poetry enshrines a keen examination on the interconnections between post-Soviet language and society. He is the author of Homo Scribens (1994), Directory (2001), and Concrete Doves (2003) and has published critical essays on contemporary art and literature.  His book As It Turned Out is his first English language release and is available from the esteemed publisher Ugly Duckling Press. I recommend visiting Penn Sound to hear some his recordings.

Cilla McQueen is a former Burns Fellow and New Zealand Poet Laureate. She has published ten volumes of poetry and she has won numerous awards, including the Prime Minister's Awards for Literary Achievement (Poetry) in 2010.  In addition, she has scooped up the New Zealand Book award for Poetry three times. 

Jacob Edmond is a senior lecturer at the University of Otago. His book A Common Strangeness has been recently published by Fordham University Press and his articles have appeared in a number of journals including Comparative Literature, Contemporary Literature, Poetics Today, The China Quarterly, and the Slavic and East European Journal.

Please take some time to experience the marvellous selections of poetry from the Tuesday Poem community. You can find these listed along at the sidebar.

Orchid Tierney is a poet and an MA candidate at the University of Otago, New Zealand. 


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

When the Sister Walks by Sarah Jane Barnett

The trail is damp so she gathers up the hem
of her habit and scolds her own impatience

as she steps over roots as thick as a boy’s wrist. She
is not at her best. When she left he gently pressed

his tattooed palm to the glass barrier. He said,
See ya, Sister. He made a joke – See you tomorrow. 

He watched her face while she recited from her red-
edged bible. Finally, like a child, his head rested down. 

At the lake she makes towards the witness tree,

she holds aside a low-hanging hickory, the seed-nut rattle
exciting a family of yellow-back wasps. They scatter

like bright marbles, afraid or maybe angry
she cries out, Oh – oh – and stumbles

away from their hide. They are sucked into an undulating
bubble of yellow and vibrate up into the trees.

They haven’t hurt her. It is nothing

but on her knees she says, Oh God, I am thankful 
for you. She wipes a dirty finger across her cheek.

Editor: Mary McCallum

“When the Sister Walks” is one of a series of nine poems about death row executions in Texas. It appears in Sarah Jane Barnett's debut collection, A Man Runs into a Woman (Hue & Cry) which was launched on 10 August 2012 at the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery in Wellington.

The poem first appeared in issue four of Hue & Cry Journal and most recently was posted by Sarah on her blog The Red Room which is linked to Tuesday Poem [see sidebar] and can be found here. 

Another poem from the death row series was posted on Tuesday Poem recently via Helen Lowe's blog.  

The series is a fascinating one - the poems are simple and nail sharp and continue to scrape and dig and prod long after you've read them. So back you go, and there they are -- inevitable, disturbing, moving every time.

Sarah says in her own post of 'When the Sister Walks',

 In 2006 I wrote a poem in response to the hanging in the movie Capote, about the power of cinema, illusion, and self delusion. While looking for information about hanging, I found a website that had the last words and criminal reports of death row inmates. It may sound like the death row series is about execution, but that’s only true in passing. 
I wrote the poems as a way to try and understand how something like a murder, and then the subsequent execution of the convicted person, could become a normalised event for the people involved – the police, prison wardens, execution technicians, clergy, the inmates and their family, and the family of the victims. Maybe it can’t.  
I hope the poems try to reconcile, or at least interpret, the different stories told by the inmate’s last words and the police crime report. Maybe my poems are another story about the event. 

A Man Runs into a Woman can be purchased from the Hue & Cry Press store. It's an impressive collection which challenges at every turn.

Poet Paula Green says of Sarah’s work: “As the cartographer of human experience, Sarah Jane Barnett steps boldly into the shoes and lives of others – a cable television engineer, a geographer, a pipeline worker. Her alert mind and canny eye for detail translate and transform what we may have missed in the world into poetic vignettes that are both light-footed and fresh.”

Sarah Jane Barnett is a PHD student and poet and mother of a delightful small boy. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from Wellington's IIML and is currently completing a creative writing PhD after being awarded a Massey Doctoral Scholatship. Her PhD combines both creative writing and research to investigate the difficulties of nature poetry.

Check out other Tuesday Poems here on the Tuesday Poem Hub. Just look to the sidebar on the left - if a post says 'Tuesday Poem' it's worth a read.

This week's editor Mary McCallum is a Tuesday Poem co-curator. She is a Wellington poet and author who teaches creative writing, writes reviews, works in a bookshop and organises book events. Her blog is www.mary-mccallum.blogspot.com.