What is this new European thing with two German writers winning my Book of the Year after the dominance of American writers. But Enzensberger is no sudden surprise. I’ve liked his poetry ever since I read his early book The Sinking of the Titanic. The image of the grand piano falling down the slanting floor of the grand ball room as the great ship lists to its fate, is one that’s so embedded in my psyche that I can’t remember whether he invented it or me but this book is just as good and may bring new images that will last. The subtitle of this new collection is revealing, ’99 meditations’ and these are much more inward looking and private poems than the grand metaphor of hubris. The book is summed up as a celebration of the ‘tenacity of normality in everyday life’.
Ron Pretty is an Australian poet who has been writing poetry for more than forty years and his latest book Postcards from the Centre, is just as good as anything he’s written. These are lovely, thoughtful, crafted poems and, continuing the theme of the cloud, there’s plenty of weather here too. But the greatest compliment I can pay this book is the one where I know a book has touched me: it made me want to write. Finally, I didn’t entirely ignore the American connection this year. Once again in NY I found a book that’s been on my Amazon wish list forever, Raymond Carver’s A New Path to the Waterfall. It was good to revisit one of my favourite American poets again.
Got the latest newsletter from the Poetry Australia foundation, which might be moving down to Melbourne! I was also interested in Ron Pretty’s account of ‘Poetry Day at the Australia Council’ where a number of poets and arts administrators got together to sort out the promotion of poetry. They made three major recommendations:
1. The re-establishment of National Poetry Week
2. The development of a national program of events, incorporating existing and new events
3. The development of the place of poetry in schools (issues such as resource packs, teacher training, HSC themes etc. were part of this.)
Ron Pretty, editor of Five Islands, confirmed to me that over 50% of their publishing budget had been cut in one fell swoop. How this will affect Australian poetry publishing into the next couple of years I dread to think!
In a poetryfest kind of week I went to the Melbourne launch of ‘Blue Dog’ the flagship magazine of the Poetry Australia Foundation last night in Melbourne. It was a good ol style poetry evening down to the plastic cups and the red wine, but the wine was bottle quality and the poetry was quality too. It was good to catch up with lots of people such as Alex Skovron, Connie Barber, Philip Salom, Garth Madsen (who I’d just me the day before), John West, Kris Hemensley, Ron Pretty and lots of others. The Melbourne Poets people weren’t that happy with my launch clashing with their reading night but we parted amicably enough!
Was in touch this week with Ron Pretty from Five Islands Press who has been instrumental in getting the new Poetry Australia Foundation off the ground, and wants me to help with the education side of things. There is enthusiastic talk of reviving the old ‘Poetry Australia’ magazine, which would be great. Also, of pushing and promoting poetry in a more organised way and developing a vehicle for small press promotion and distribution of poetry. I’ve been waiting to here who else might be on the group and have set up a discussion page to begin coming to an understanding of the issues.
Poetry & Education Discussion Forum