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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Dizzy with poetry

It's National Poetry Week again! To celebrate I thought I'd share the fact that I had dinner sitting between Rosemary Dobson and David Malouf at their poetry reading tonight and it was one of those evenings where you just sit back and soak it all in. Sometimes I have to pinch myself. One of DM's poems had a line a bit like 'I was so happy I forgot to be happy'. Sigh.

To temper this highbrow moment, I also wanted to share that I lost half of today by overmedicating myself for severe woman-bits pain. I had none of my usual pills left, so in desperation I popped 2 Panadol Forte and rode my bike into the art school. An hour later I was lying with my head on the desk groaning, feeling very spaced out and dizzy. The only comparison I can make (and this is from the experience of a very long time ago) is the effects of sucking on a bucket-bong. I couldn't do anything useful, so I just had to wait until I was sure I wouldn't fall back off my bicycle and ride home.

Two good things came out of this experience:

1. it was a glorious day, and I decided that if I was going to feel stoned I might as well embrace the feeling and look around me for a while. A few times on the way home I stopped the bike (or maybe it stopped me) and sat in the sun watching cockatoos or looking at the shadows cast by trees on the bikepath. There's some lovely bits of the inner North.

bike path shadows

2. I did recover, but was still a bit lightheaded when I went to the poetry reading, so I didn't drink, which meant that I was able to give my dinner companions my full attention and didn't turn into a nervous galah.

Last year for NPW I blogged a poem every day, and I think I'll continue that tradition, including the fact that I've started a bit late into the week.

Here's one of Dobson's poems (not read tonight), which I know from tonight's conversation is one of Malouf's favorites. I'd love to post the poem he wrote in response to this (which was read tonight), but I don't have a copy and it won't be published until next year, so I'll have to wait for that pleasure.


BEING CALLED FOR

Come in at the low-silled window,
Enter by the door through the vine-leaves
Growing over the lintel. I have hung bells at the
Window to be stirred by the breath of your
Coming, which may be at any season.

In winter the snow throws
Light on the ceiling. If you come in winter
There will be a blue shadow before you
Cast on the threshold.

In summer an eddying of white dust
And a brightness falling between the leaves.

When you come I am ready: only, uncertain---
Shall we be leaving at once on another journey?
I would like first to write it all down and leave the pages
On the table weighted with a stone,
Nevertheless I have put in a basket
The coins for the ferry.

Rosemary Dobson, from Collected Poems (Sydney: A&R, 1993)


Beautiful, non? Spring is such a good time for poetry. I lose all interest in cut flowers in Spring. Gone are the days of buying poppies and jonquils at the markets. Who needs them when there are camellias outside my windows and blossoms in the streets?

of course it is

Exactly.



Postscript: I caught that last photo just in time. Today as I rode by the sky was grey and the blossoms were muddied by the new red leaves coming through on the branches.

7 comments:

Dorian said...

I have a new job - starting a week or so. It's close to home so last weekend I rode my bike over to my new workplace to see how long it would take, and it is such a great ride across parkland all the way, including fields with cows and all that - very 'All Creatures Great and Small' actually except for the kangaroo family I rode by.

Zoe said...

What, you had to get out the long glove, Dorian?


A lovely post, Ducky, and a beautiful poem.

Ampersand Duck said...

I hope you sat up straight on your bicycle and hummed the appropriate music, D.

Ta, Z.

ThirdCat said...

I have a small number of left over panadol forte, and every now and then when nothing else seems to work, I think of them. And then I remember the day I looked at my cooking lunch not long after I'd taken a few...and sometimes that makes me want to take them, and sometimes it makes me want to leave them there.

Mindy said...

Thank you for that poem Ducky. I love it. I look forward to reading your post next year on DM's response to it too!

TimT said...

I do like Rosemary Dobson - I have a copy of her collected/selected/dissected/whatevered poems in my collection. Much better than a lot of the other blustering blokes that make up the Aussie poetry scene. And her Piltdown man poem is just hilarious!

PS When the subject of favourite poems came up in a Vibewire conversation some time ago, almost all of the poets were from the 20th century. Can I place a request for some obscure Jacobean or Grecian poems?

PPS Mary Gilmore's great, too.

worldpeace and a speedboat said...

woo, great post! delicious photo too, oh the irony of it ;)


btw I am like you Ducky. Panadol Forte (anything Forte) = hell. no Codeine shall pass my lips. god, the horrors... it's worse than being motion-sick and thats one of the banes of my existence!