The small poetry collection Us, Falling for It, that I’ve mentioned here before is now online and available in Kindle format from my Amazon author page HERE
In 1993, I took long service leave from teaching and headed overseas for the first time, with my wife and two small daughters. We planned a trip through some of Greece, Italy, France, England and Ireland.
During the trip I kept notes for poems that were later assembled in a small collection for close friends and family. That self-published chapbook, completed at the end of the journey, is published here more widely for the first time.
Why publish now a self-published chapbook thirty years old that was ‘published’ in an edition of twelve copies? After all, as I wrote at the time in the introduction: ‘This booklet is not meant to stand the withering scrutiny or critical judgements of strangers’. As a young teacher and writer trying to establish my voice as a poet, I lacked the confidence to look further than family and friends. However, I’m less concerned now about ‘withering scrutiny’ and see things here that others might enjoy.
What I liked about the collection, looking at it again after all these years, besides the memories of a wonderful journey as a family, was the wide-eyed innocence at it all. I knew at the time that I’d been seduced by these first impressions; it’s implicit in the title ‘us falling for it’, but at the same time those first impressions were real, vivid and lasting. I was more than willing to be taken in. It felt like these impressions could be shared more widely.
The collection is $5AUD on the Kindle store. I hope that readers enjoy it. I’m heading back to Europe in a new few weeks for the first time since 2018. I hope that I still have the ability to fall in love with it all again, and some new poems come of it.
I was saddened to hear late last year of the passing of the German poet Hans Magnus Enzensberger (1929-2022) and I thought I should note that even here.
I’m no expert on post-war German poetry, but Enzensberger, along with W.G. Sebald seemed to me one of the great post-war German writers as that country tried to emerge from World War II and deal with its past.
It was my Monash University tutor Philip Martin, who first alerted me to Enzensberger’s work and I was grateful. In retrospect, the European sensibility and awareness of history and the past, was a good fit with Martin’s own preoccupations in his writing.
I’ve blogged about Enzensberger before here in reference to his long poem The Sinking of the Titanic , a poem that for me rival’s Thomas Hardy’s great poem on the subject The Convergence of the Twain.
His collection A History of Clouds was also my poetry book of the year in 2010, a book summed up as a celebration of the ‘tenacity of normality in everyday life’.
Enzensberger’s death barely rated a mention in the Australian press but seems to me the passing of a fine mind. The poems live on
NOTE: I updated this post with some better quality images from some of the Enzensberger books I have.
As I mentioned back in December, one of the projects I’m working on this year is to re-publish a chapbook of poems I wrote back in 1993 about my first journey to Europe, a family journey as exciting and as fulfilling as I had always hoped.
The original chapbook was ‘published’ (read typed and photocopied) in a limited edition of twelve. It was mainly poems written on, or just after that trip, and some selected diary entries. It was printed originally in A4, twenty-two pages, individually numbered, two-sided photocopies, spiral bound with a postcard from the journey pasted on the opening page of each copy and given to friends.
The project this year has been to digitise that chapbook, trying to keep as much of the spirit of the original as possible, but making it more available in ebook and paperback format. I’m hoping to have that online by the end of April when I plan to return to Europe, not for the first time since then, but with that journey firmly in mind.
Meanwhile, here’s some of the photographs I took on the trip, some of which I’ll include in the new edition. There’s nothing spectacular about them, or distinctive. But they do, I think, have a certain feel of the ‘time’, obvious places, obvious holiday ‘snaps’ taken on film on my Minolta 303 (pictured below) that I lugged around with me all the way, along with a pasta maker for much of the journey! But that’s another story.
The mini-collection, Us, Falling for It, should be out next month.
My book of the year for 2022 is Orwell’s Roses by Rececca Solnit.
I’ve enjoyed Rebecca Solnit’s work for a while, particularly her earlier book Wanderlust. I think this is even better, a series of essays and a meditation and exploration of gardens, life, death, Orwell, creativity, time and place.
I also read, and was amazed by, Gravity’s Rainbow, so inaccessible and wonderful, and so different to the breezy prose of Anne Tyler in French Braid. Her insights into family and time have always struck me as true somehow. It was also good to enjoy a new book of poetry again. Kasey Jued’s book has been well reviewed and deservedly so. Cormac McCarthy’s The Passenger was unlucky not to make the list; that was a compelling and at times exasperating read.
As always you can check the READING link of my PoetryPages to see more about my reading over the years and what I’ve enjoyed.
Text version (to paste into your shopping app of choice!
Rebecca Solnit. Orwell’s Roses (NF) Thomas Pynchon. Gravity’s Rainbow (F) Karl Ove Knausgaard: Morning Star (F) Anne Tyler. French Braid (F) Kasey Jueds. The Thicket (P)
Adamson was a force in Australian poetry, part of the ‘new poetry’ push in the 1960s and 1970s and edited New Poetry magazine for fourteen years. By the time I came across his work, in the early 1980s, he was well established as an important voice in Australian poetry.
Personally, I was particularly drawn to the spirit of place in Adamson’s work, the belief in the importance of the ‘local’ that I have found so often in writers I admire, particularly in his case, the Hawkesbury River region. His writing about landscape and birds has been something I’ve enjoyed most in his work.
This week, after the news, I pulled some of the Adamson books from my collection and re-read some of those poems. I also re-read his memoir of prose and poetry, Wards of the State. They remain impressive work, grounded in the real world, but ‘fishing in a landscape for love’
For the last two or three years I’ve opened the day with coffee and Twitter.
Well, email first, and the weather and then the familiar feeds from trusted sources I’ve carefully curated over the years.
News from the Guardian, BBC, the ABC, the Saturday Paper and then links and insights from authors I trust, colleagues, former colleagues, ex-students.
I kept my reading selective, used a twitter client called Tweetbot that got rid of the ads and didn’t see a lot of hate.
But that’s been changing, and the whole experience has felt a lot less stable under new ownership. Increasingly, I felt less and less comfortable with the idea of participating in Twitter and passively endorsing where it seems to be going.
So, like a lot of people, it seems, I’ve moved over to a smaller, more decentralised version that can’t be bought by a megalomaniacal billionaire. Mastodon, specifically the zirk.us server. You can find me there at @firstname.lastname@example.org