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Posts from the ‘poetry’ Category


#AWW 2019 Nine Lives: Women Writers

  • Author:  Susan Sheridan
  • Title: Nine Lives: Postwar Women Writers Making Their Mark
  • Published: 2011
  • Genre: non-fiction
  • Rating: A
  • Trivia:  This book has been sitting on my TBR for two years!
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly plan
  • #AWW2019   @AusWomenWriters



  1. Trying to get back to books with
  2. …’one’ very good eye after cataract surgery
  3. …the the other eye ready for correction in 2 weeks.
  4. #NeedCoffee



  1. Why did I wait so long to read this wonderful book?
  2. I think the  bland bookcover did not catch my eye.
  3. Ms Sheridan should have used thumbnail photos of te
  4. …talented Australian writers she was about  to introduce to this reader!


  1. This books contains
  2. nine condensed, compact biographies of Australian Women writers
  3. Sheridan highlights a generation of women writers
  4. overlooked in the Australian contemporary literary scene.
  5. These women writers who were born between 1915-1930:
  6. Judith Wright
    Thea Astley
    Dorothy Hewett
    Rosemary Dobson
    Dorothy Aucherlonie Green
    Gwen Harwood
    Jessica Anderson
    Amy Witting
    Elizabeth Jolley


  1. All had children...
  2. J. Wright and D. Green were the sole support of their families.
  3. The nine women were versatile writers
  4. poet, playwright, novelist, short stories,
  5. non-fiction (autobiography), literary critic and editor.
  6. T. Astely won Miles Franklin Award 4x, Jessica Anderson 2x and E. Jolley 1x.
  7. All shared a sense of urgency…
  8. their vocation, their ‘need’ to be a writer
  9. that would not let them rest.



  1. Judith Wright – was an important name in the emerging postwar literature.
  2. She was one of the few Australian poets to achieve international recognition.
  3. Ms Wright is the author of of several collections of poetry,
  4. including The Moving Image, Woman to
  5. Man, The Gateway, The Two Fires, Birds,
  6. The Other Half, Magpies, Shadow, Hunting Snake, among others.
  7. Her work is noted for a keen focus on the Australian environment.



  1. Thea Astley –  I am a huge fan of this writer.
  2. I did learn more tidbits of info about this woman.
  3. Critics were not always kind to Thea Astely.
  4. The ending of  The Slow Natives
  5. …was  “…too sentimental and melodramatic.
  6. I didn’t think so!
  7. Even Patrick White was harsh.
  8. Criticism should be like rain
  9. …gentle enough to nourish growth without
  10. …destroying the roots.
  11. White’s  fault finding ended their friendship.
  12. Thea Astley won Miles Franklin Award four times!


  1. Dorothy Hewett – After reading Ms Hewett’s short biography in this book the
  2. only thing that suited this woman is the song: Born to be Wild  !!
  3. Once I read about the tumultuous life of Dorothy Hewett I knew
  4. I had to read her books.
  5. I ordered Baker’s Dozen ( 13 short stories)…
  6. …cannot wait to read it!



  1. Rosemary Dobson – She was fully established as a poet by the age of 35.
  2. She published 14 collections of poems.
  3. The Judges of the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards in 1996
  4. described her significance as follows:
  5. “The level of originality and strength of
  6. Rosemary’s poetry cannot be underestimated…”


  1. Dorothy Auchterlonie Green –  She saw herself primarily as a scholar.
  2. Ms Green felt overworked and
  3. under-recognized, trapped by circumstances of her life and unsure of her capacity as a poet.
  4. She won widespread admiration for her poetry, literary scholarship
  5. her reviews and social criticism and inspirational teaching.


  1. Gwen Harwood – She was sick of the way poetry
  2. editors (Meanjin) treated her…no accepting her work.
  3. Ms Harwoon created several nom de plume: Geyer , Lehmann and Stone.
  4. Geyer and Lehmann were regularly invited to meet editors for lunch next time they were in Sydney
  5. or Melbourne. Geyer was evern invited to read at the Adelaide Festival.
  6. ….he respectively declined.
  7.  Awards


  1. Jessica Anderson – She was in a male-dominated and
  2. Anglocentric publishing world.
  3. How did she survive?
  4. She cultivated the qualities of character and
  5. strategies of survival necessary to
  6. sustain enough belief in herself to go on writing.
  7. She won the Miles Franklin Award twice…1978 and 1980.

  1. Amy Witting – For many years Amy Witting was invisible in the literary world.
  2. She won the Patrick White Award 1993
  3. for writers who have not received adequate recognition.
  4. I am waiting for her book of short stories to arrive…Marriages
  5. …I’m sure Amy Witting will have much to tell about this institution!


  1. Elizabeth Jolley – In a single year she received 39 rejection slips
  2. …yet she persisted.
  3. She won Miles Franklin Award 1986.


#Poetry Omar Musa inspiring Australian voice!



Parang – with a name like this (knife)
I expected blood, gore, guts.
I got insight, openness, much humanity,
at times a palpable joy.
No ‘Hippa to Da Hoppa’ rap beat
…only the beating of a true poet’s heart.

  2. Omar Musa gets standing ovation in Sydney 2013 TEDx talk:


My notes:

What does ‘Parang’ mean?
Malaysian short stout straight-edged knife

Who is Omar Musa?

Omar bin Musa (1984)
is an award-winning author, poet and rapper from Australia.
He has released three solo hip hop records and three books of poetry.
His debut novel Here Come the Dogs was published in 2014.
Here Come the Dogs was long-listed for the Miles Franklin Award.
Musa was named one of the Sydney Morning Herald’s Young Novelists of the Year in 2015.

What is his background?
Musa is the son of Australian arts journalist Helen Musa and
Malaysian poet Musa bin Masran.
He is of Suluk, Kedayan and Irish ancestry.
He studied at the Australian National University
and the University of California, Santa Cruz
Musa was the winner of the Australian Poetry Slam of 2008
that gives him a bit of clout

Part 1 – Parang (14 poems) = 9 are excellent….5 are very good!
Part 2 – Lost Planet (8 poems)
Part 3 – Dark Streets (5 poems)


  • My notes for part 1
  • …I’ll let you discover the rest of Musa’s poems!
  • They are a joy to read!


Part 1
Trancevery good – poet feels contact with story telling ancestor
Parangvery good contrasting images of ‘parang’ guardian angel of gangsters
….but also house builder and opener of paths
Belongingvery good “crystal thread of belonging”
…in touch with ancestoral as “steam unwinds from stories”
Blowpipevery good – weapon of the forests shoot at “…the throat of the past.”
The Old Roosterexcellent– triangle: poet – parang – arrogant, stutting rooster
Muhammad and Muhammadexcellent– nephew and baby cousin meet
…” his feet bicycling in air” sees “…tigers the size of pillows”
The Rotten Toothvery good…never put off a dentist appointment!
“…tooth turned sewer-black”
Collapsed Starexcellent
young man meets old man…who taught him chess…”a collapsing star”
Lightnig Over Sandakan excellent – young man visits dying grandmother
“…memory trembles, rain-written”
FELDA excellent “…perfect pattern of oil-rich trees minting money
…there was jungle here once, fecund”
(The Federal Land Development Authority is a Malaysian government agency that was founded to handle the resettlement of rural poor into newly developed areas and to organise smallholderfarms growing cash crops.)
Sunyi – (Sanskrit ‘silent,empty’) – excellent – very touching jungle story
Forest Fireexcellent – jungle plundered for profit
A Homelandexcellent – poet’s return to his homeland…but it has changed! “Exile’s folly”
The Parang (knife) and the Keris (dagger)excellent description of poet’s own blade
“…I made it….found the iron ore….beat it into the Italic font I….sharpened it.



#AWW2019 Selina Tusitala Marsh Poet Laureate NZ


Selina Tusitala Marsh:

  1. Selina Tusitala Marsh is of Samoan, Tuvalu, English and French descent.
  2. She was the first Pacific Islander to graduate
  3. with a PhD in English from the University of Auckland and
  4. is now a lecturer in the English Department, specialising in Pacific literature.


  1. Oh, reading these poems with many
  2. Samoan words/references
  3. is going to be a challenge.
  4. Thank goodness….
  5. Ms Marsh has added a glossary for words the reader
  6. probably won’t understand.
  7. Thank you, poet laureate!


My notes on a few poems….


Googling TusitalaVery good…and clever!
Marsh has listed the choices Google returns
when she googles ‘Tusitala’.
Last line is the clincher that brings a laugh:
‘The tusitala bookshelf in
— there’s no wrong way to eat a rhesus.”
(BookCrossing is the act of releasing your books
“into the wild” for a stranger to find via the website)

Not Another Nafanua Poem – good
First I have to look up nafanua!
— Nafanua is the Samoan goddess of war

Afaksai (half-caste) – very good, rich with Samoan words!

Calabash Breakers – good

Hone Said – so-so..too cryptic…see glossary!

Things on Thursdays
Very good… should sound familiar to all struggling
female writers balancing family, work and writing!

Song for Terry – good…intriguing because I cannot discover who “Anne” is!

Langston’s Mother (very short poem…)

absolutely stunning because this poem led me to Langston Hughes’ poem
Mother To Son….breathtaking.

Mother to Son   (Langston Hughes)

Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

(…if you don’t get ‘skin shivers after reading don’t have a pulse!)


Cardboard Crowns – very good
Sum of Mum – good, very clever!
Wild Horses – …need help understanding this one
Three to Four – intense…memories of a car accident
Le Amataga – not able to find something in this poem by myself…need the glossary!
Spare the Rod – This poem brings to mind ancient rock engravings…. not easy to grasp
A Samoan Star-chant for Matariki – too cryptic

…need more knowledge of Samoan words/myth
(In the Māori language Matariki is both the name of the Pleiades star cluster
and also of the season of its first rising
in late May or early June.
This is a marker of the beginning of the new year.)

Circle of Stones – Poems don’t have to be just understood…they can lead you to other things. This poem put in in touch with the Fale Pasifika at University of Aukland. Fale is the name a a Samoan building, the center of the community. On You Tube you can watch History of the Fale Pasifika….just filled with spiritual meaning for this University to let all Pacific people know they belong.

Guys Like Gaughin – very good…clever!
Nails for Sex – very good! This is based on history and is worth reading about before you start this poem…then it all will make sense!

Wikipedia HMS Dolphin 

Mutiny on Pitcairn – average

Two Nudes of a Tahitian Beach, 1894 – good…based on this painting by Gauguin

Venus in Transit – poem mentions many well known connections to Venus in Transit…..but who is Rowan? The poet refers to NZ author Rowan Metcalfe’s book Venus in Transit (2004). This novel tells the story from a new and unexpected perspective, that of the Tahitian women who joined the Bounty mutineers and sailed away with them to make new lives.

Realpolitik (expansionist national policy) -…reflecting on Capt. Cook/crew,  who brought disease to Tahitian women.

Contact 101 – how different people (philosopher, scientist, anthropologist) see South Pacific women

Has the whole tribe come out from England? – Wellington has been overrun by the British

What’s Sarong With This – pun…”What’s Wrong with This?” – very good, very intense!


The Curator – …description of a poem reading (Ms Marsh?) in a museum, sharp-edged.

Hawai’i: Prelude to a Journey – very good, glimpse of all sides of Hawaii and visitors….also a reference to a Hawaiian deity Pele, goddess of volcanos “…Pele’s pen, her black ink lava ever pricking the night.” There is so much in this poem you could spend some time investigating many aspects of this poem!

Touring Hawaii and Its People – very good….looking for ?? with a flowering crown in a museum. ( of the Hawaiian monarchy?)

Alice’s Billboard – strange….can’t make head or tails of this one, sorry!

Fast Talkin’n PI – (title poem) – Oh, I think I finally found who “ANNE” is if the poem….”Song for Terry”!

Fast Talking PI (pronounced pee-eye) = pacific islander
reflects the poet’s focus on issues affecting
Pacific communities in New Zealand, and
indigenous peoples around the world
… including the challenges and
…triumphs of being afakasi (mixed race).



#Poetry Leontia Flynn (Irish poet)


  1. Finished: 17.08.2019
  2. Genre: poetry
  3. Rating: A
  4. 32 poems and I liked ..18 of them.
  5. 56 % = That is a GOOD SCORE!


  1. The Radio was published in 2017,
  2. was shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize and
  3. won the Irish Times Poetry Now Prize.


  1. PART 1 The Child, The Family (10 poems)
  2. The book gets off to a good start
    ….but most poetry collections puts some
    great poems at the beginning as a ‘hook’.
  3. There are some great images:
  4. Yellow Lullaby
    …description a mother rushing to a crying child:
    “…barreling not like some semi deranged trainee barista
    …friendly but confused.”
  5. Alzheimer’s Villanelle (Flynn’s father suffered from Alzheimer’s disease)
    description of the sickness…
    ” …imagine a train delayed, delayed, delayed
    that pulls up without a passenger or driver.”


  1. PART 2 …And the Outside World (19 poems)
  2. The first two poems are stunning:
    August 30th 2013 (…day of Seamus Heaney’s death)
  3. Field of Yellow Flowers…..for Gavin Turning 40 (….memories of a lover)
  4. Thenext  7 poems received  ‘good’ or ‘very good’ in my notes.
  5. Unfortunately after that…
  6. the collection seemed to lose its orginal strength
  7. …like a bike tire soundlessly leaking air.


  1. PART 3 Poems Conceived as Dialogues ( 3)
  2. Experimental….but not I was still not impressed.


  1. Conclusion:
  2. This is a collection of poems I would re-read.
  3. If you see this book in your library just stuff it between
  4. your other book hauls
  5. ….and let Leontia Flynn surprise you!
  6. #Bravo

#Poetry Ireland Professor of Poetry

The position of Ireland Professor of Poetry is an academic chair  jointly  administered by three Irish  universities. Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin (pronunciation: KWILL-en-non) has been chosen for this prestigious position for  three years (2016-2019). A new professor will be appointed soon.





  1. The poems of Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin (ENC)
  2. are rooted in the past and personal memory
  3. The past is lost but the poet  revives our historical memory.
  4. ENC had been described as the Vermeer of contemporary poetry.
  5. ….I’m very curious  to see what impact ENC will have on me.


Finished: 15.08.2019
Genre: poetry
Rating: A
#TBR list 2019


Title: The Boys of Bluehill   is the first tune she heard her sister play.
…a traditional Irish hornpipe.

Memory shapes creativity in the work of Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin.
She has an unsentimental mind yet writes with feeling.
She creates a world of compelling narratives that
challenge the reader

Her poems seem to escape to another realm.
If you invest time researching her poems
(figurative images, family background, Irish myths,
the allusions in the poems…
you will be richly rewarded!

Theme: musical core that is closely
connected to ENC’s sister Máire.
She was a musician and died more than 25 years ago.

Best poem: …is about Máire “The Skirt”…haunting
Light poems: about her first grandchild…”Dream Shine” and “Incipit Hodie”
Translated poem: poem based on a “The Lament for the Old Woman Beare”…that gives one the sense of a woman who vanishes as she gets older… “The Song of the Woman of Beare“.
Memory poem: going back to things you didn’t do then…and can’t do now…“I Used to Think
Emotional poem:Passing Palmers Green Station” – family memories, recounts a journey on the London Underground that brings back to the poet’s mind an earlier journey with her mother to visit “…her younger daughter among the dying”.


Last thoughts:

  1. Poems by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin
  2. are not easy to understand
  3. …if you don’t have the time
  4. …to appreciate her language skills.
  5. She is truly one of
  6. …the best Irish poets of her generation.



#Poetry Derek Mahon (Irish poet)


Reistance Days  — ( prose poem)  dedicated to John Minihan

  • It is good to know about the person to whom the poem is dedicated.
  • Perhaps it wll help me discover some hidden meaning or references.
  • John Minihan is an Irish photographer, born in Dublin in 1946.
  •  The photos are an attempt to document the lives of the ordinary people.
  • Over the years Minihan developed a close relationship with many writers and his
  • photographs of Samuel Beckett show a particular affinity between the two men.
  • William S. Burroughs once referred to Minihan as “a painless photographer”.


  1. I copied the poem in couplets
  2. ….but Derek Mahon wrote it as a prose poem.
  3. I found the prose-form difficult to read and because of its length
  4. …lost interest.
  5. End rhyme makes the poem so much more enjoyable!
  6. The poem is long
  7. …but not dark or heavy handed
  8. ….just try it!



  1. 1 poem by D. Mahon was more fun to read
  2. …than 3 Crime Fiction thrillers!
  3. #ReadMorePoetry



The sort of snail-mail that can take a week
but suits my method, pre-informatique,

I write this from the St. Louis, rm 14 —
or type it, rather, on the old machine,

a portable, that I take when I migrate
in ‘the run-up to Christmas. Here I sit

amidst the hubbub of the rue de Seine
while a winter fly snores at a window-pane.

Old existentialists, old beats, old punks,
sat here of old; some dedicated drunks

still sing in the marketplace, and out back
there’s an old guy who know Jack Kerouac.

Spring in December now, of course; no doubt
the daffs and daises are already out

and you lot, in the serene post-Christmas lull,
biking the back road between Hob and Schull.

(ref: Schull, West Cork, Ireland)

Here at the heure bleue in the Deux Magots
where as a student I couldn’t afford to go

a gauche and unregenerate anglophone
tongue-tied as ever in my foreign tongue,
stil getting the easiest constructions wrong,

I inhale the fashions of the sexy city,
its streets streaming with electricity,

its wings and roundabouts on the go as ever,
the fly-boats echoing on the floodlit river

when a switch locks and the long boulevard flares
with a thump and flow obscuring moon and stars

In flight from corporate Christendom, this year
I spent the frightful season in Tangier

with spaced-out ‘fiscal nomads’ and ex-pats
or bored by Bowles beneath the sheltering slats,

(ref: book The Sheltering Sky)

bucket and spade under high cloud and sail,
blue and windblown, a sort of vast Kinsale

(ref: Head of Kinsale, Ireland)


— a travel poster as we flutter down
changing at Casablanca in pouring rain

then ocean contours, minaret and soul,
a dribbling fountain, swirling palms, windsock,

a postcard; camels on the beach, black sheep
routinely scattering on the tiny strip,
the flowing script of Royal Air Maroc;

prescribed odours of cedarwood and kif
in the moist oasis of the Hotel du Rif,

swifts diving over the gardens and the port
of course, for even there the birds migrate;

heat-lightning flash photography in the strait,
eight lengths of a cold pool above a white

city at sea; keen cars of Christmas Day
with a lost tribe of Nigerian sans-papiers,

bright migrants from hot Sahara to cold EU
in the leafy English church Sam Beckett knew.

(ref: iconic photo of Beckett (1985) by John Minihan)


I’d uncles down that way in the war years,
a whole raft of Merchant Navy engineers,

northern barbarians on the Barbary Coast
in their white ducks, a far cry from Belfast —

old-movie time of transit visas, bad cheques,
the Dakar fiasco, ‘everyone comes to Rick’s’

ref: movie Casablanca

but the proud Berbers of the west resist
the soul-stealing gaze of the ‘western tourist’

to nurse the experience of a thousand years
beneath a crescent moon and evening stars

— al-‘Dhara, al- ‘Dharan, al-Qa’id and al-Ta’ir
peach-pink Arabian nights, the call to prayer
on Lavery’s dunes and balconies, austere

as antelope or ibex, a light as rare:
you with your Nikon would go crazy there.

A real barbarian, Wyndham Lewis in flight

(ref: 1882-1957, English writer, painter, critic)

from daily mail, tube station and wireless set,

found there the desert ‘blue’ tribes’ he liked best
in the days of the Rif rifles and Beau Geste,

far from fake sheikhery and the coast hotels
exploring qasba art in the lunar hills —

‘the best this side of China, I should say’.
Of course, most things are different since his day:

looking like Katie Tyrrell (1863-1921) and the old folks

(ref: Irish sailor and businesswoman. Born in Arklow in 1863, Ms Tyrrell blazed a trail as the first female ship’s captain. Her father had a shipping company that imported and exported goods between Ireland and Wales. From childhood, Kate could be found around the shipyard learning her father’s trade.

Kete Tyrrell index
in your on ‘sublimely gloomy’  Athy pix,

(ref: Athy is home of photographer Minihan)

as everywhere the filmable populations
have now been framed in shinier compositions,

the open prison of the corporate whole,
for even dissent has long been marketable —

even in the desert of legend and dark myth,
of drought and genocide, what Patti Smith
calls ‘the real earth of Rimbaud,’ no daisies there.

(ref: Patti Smith 1946)

Burroughts and Ginsberg – 9, rue Gít-le-Coeur —
who thought to undermine the monolith
were building new sandcastles in the air.

Back now on the rive gauche and the Pont des Arts
re-reading the works of Bonnefoy and Éluard,
(ref: Bonnefoy 1923-2016 French poet and art historian)
(ref: Éluard 1895-1952, French poet; founder of the surrealist movement)

a flâneur in the dense galaxies of text
yet somehow knowing what to link for next,

I resist Miller’s Quiet Days in Clichy
to browse among the picture books, cliché

(ref: Henry Miller 1891-1980, novella days as ex-pat in Paris)

and time exposure, the once bright machines,
the mirrored nudes like open nectarines,

high-definition fashion, Paris de Nuit,
copperplate silence, cranes at St. Denis,

the soap and tickets, the oblivious snow,
a gargoyle musing on the lights below,

soft-focus studio filter work, the glow
and heartening realism of Robert Doisneau
(ref: 1912-1994, French photographer B/W foto’s streets of Paris)

Les Halles, butcher


(industrial suburbs, the great aerial one
of the Renault plant beside de Bois de Boulogne

pensioners, tramps, young lovers in a park,
a kiss at rush-hour or a dance in the dark);

and on the history shelves the wartime books,
old coats and bicycles, old hat and specs

old sniper rifles, Gloria and Étoile
ripping up tarmac in the place St. Michel;

at the Gare du Nord a 24-hour clock,
clanking transports, faces wreathed in smoke

and the damned logo everywhere you look;
midnight editions, by Gironde or Loire

a distant grumble in the sky some where,
a shaky flashlight piercing night and cloud,
low voices murmuring like owls in a wood.

— Days of resistance, un peu soviétique,
plain Sartre and Beauvoir dancing cheek to cheek!


Now our resistance is to co-optation,
the ‘global project of world domination,

the generative darkness hid from sight
in an earth strung with deterministic light

no more than a ganglion of wires and flex,
crap advertising and commercial sex.

Still skeptical, statistically off-line France
resists the specious arguments most advance,

the digital movies and unnatural nosh,
to stick with real tomatoes, real brioche

and real stars like Adjani and Binoche
‘No art without the resistant of the medium’:




our own resistance to the murderous tedium
of business culture lays claim to the real
as product, no, but as its own ideal —

live seizures in the flux, fortuitous archetypes,
an art as fugitive as the life it snaps

tracing the magic of some primitive place
in the last retrenchment of the human face,

gossip and pigeons, close-ups by Kertész
the young Diana in her London crèche. **

(ref: Kertész 1894-1985, groundbreaking photographic composition)
(most famous photorgraph…”La Forchette” )

(** ref: Poem is dedicated to J. Minihan took the icon foto of Princess Di)

Us snappers-ups of photogenic details,
yourself a snapper of immortal souls,

resist commodity, the ersatz, the cold,
the schrecklichkeit of the post-modern world,

that the sun-writing of our resistance days
shine like Cape Clear glimpsed in a heat-haze

(ref: Irish name: Cape Cléire, lies south-west of County Cork in Ireland.)


After so much neglect, resolved anew,
creative anarchy I come back to you,

not the faux anarchy of media culture
but the real chaos of indifferent nature —

for instance, my own New Year resolution
is to study weather, clouds and their formation,

going straight to video with each new release
untroubled by the ignorant thought police.

I wish you good light or a light in a mist
safe from the critic and the invasive tourist,

a Munster twilight far from the venal roar
where waifs, and strays can beat paths to your door,

unseasonable creatures, ears against the sky,
and timorous things that wouldn’t hurt a fly,

conceptual silence, the best place to live —
Que faire d’une lampe, il pleut, le jour se lève’:

real daylight keeps on breaking, in other words
So, love to Hammond and the karate kids;

(ref:  Minihan and his family, In 1988, John met Hammond Journeaux, a “lovely” woman from New Zealand, at a dinner party in London, who “blessed” him with two sons – Emmet, now 23 and living in London, and 19-year-old Bosco.


down silent paths, in secret hiding places,
the locked out-house that no-one notices,

listening for footfalls by a quiet river
the sun will find us when the worst is over

when everyone is in love, our children laugh
at the gruff bloke snuffling in the epigraph

and in the window-frame a persistent fly
buzzes with furious life which will never die.


Derek Mahon:






#Poetry Ailbhe Darcy “Insistance”

  • Author: Ailbhe Darcy
  • Title: Insistance   18 poems  and  I liked  just 1 !!
  • Published: 2018
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly reading plan
  • #TBR  challenge update  
  • Read 22/43 books that I purchased in 2019!
  • NOTE:  all comments are my personal reactions to the poems
  • ….A. Darcy is an award winning poet and my thoughts should not
  • diminish the quality of her work.

Irish poets I would strongly recommend:


General impression:

I read one reviewer describe Darcy’s poems as ‘…a bit too clever’.
The reader’s ability to understand, interpret and appreciate poetry is different with each person, I agree with this. but….

What makes successful poem?
Accessibility is the extension of a poet to the reader and say
Come here, with me and lets share this experience of language.

What makes successful poem?
A poem written in plain language that can connect with the reader.

What irritates me the most?

I dislike  the quirky poets with visual tricks or dazzle readers with their vocabulary!
Too many poets are cryptic….they think the purpose of poetry is to be cryptic.
Poetry should be plain and simple…but that does not mean it cannot be complex.


My notes:

Conclusion: Hair
Oke…Darcy has a wide vocabulary (simulacra, chyme, fettled, to futz) but IMO does not a great poet make.


Conclusion: Umbrella
Yet another poem that leaves me unmoved…


Conclusion: The Car
Quirky….memory of family car and time in South Bend Indiana.


Conclusion: Postcards from Europe
Bombs, St. Martin, sword swallower…sigh
…this poem did not throw open my imagination
it nearly put me asleep.


Conclusion Mushrooms
Mish-mash of words and random thoughts that don’t make sense to me.
Mushrooms? Really?


Conclusion: Stink
I just lost interest….there is no great message…not emotional buzz
…no humor or creative metaphors.


Conclusion: Nice
Absolutely no emotional reaction
This poem about….cockroaches and robots, please!
I listened to the poet recite this poem…it didn’t improve
the reading experience.


Conclusion: Silver
…..more insects, silverfish. Not for me.


Conclusion: Jellyfish
I read the the article by K. Mathiesen which is the inspiration for Darcy’s poem (The Guardian, 21.08.2015). I could not find a coherent link to the article and the poem with the exception of the word jellyfish. I found the poem an unfathomable rant.


Conclusion: Angelus
Now I thought concept is known “devotional prayer for morning, noon and evening’. That should help me read this 3 part poem.
No. I could not make heads or tails of it.
It’s probably not Ailbhe Darcy’s fault…it has to be me.


Conclusion: Service not included
Try as iI do…I cannot link the 4x mentions of shopping centres and 3 x of hospitals.
I presume the speaker is the poet and imagine she’s referring to her mother-in-law
But only Darcy can confirm this.
…all the references to (mother-in-law??)
— your tears?
— your hands
— your own son
— Your hands
— your way there
— your palms
— your daughters
— your hands


Conclusion: Postcard of ‘Walls of Aran’
What a beautiful photograph….yet I was not able to link this with the long blast of words in Darcy’s poem. Her words made zero impact on me. On the other hand….this image is breathtaking! Getting bored with Ailbhe Darcy
….even if she is considered one of the best Irish poets in a generation! I feel obligated to get through her poems….if I bought the book I should read it.


Conclusion: My son is born
Poems about children example: ….by Katie Ford in her collection Blood Lyrics “Of a child early born” brought tears to my eyes but unfortunately Ailbhe Darcy cannot evoke the same emotion in me.


Conclusion: Election Day
What does this poem have to do with an election day?
Darcy has the ability to write a poem which has
NO relation to the title…that I can discover!


Conclusion: A guided tour of the house and its environs

Rambling on and on…. (excerpts)

This is where the floor slants you can roll a ball
This is where I killed the ants with cleaning chemicals
This tortuous shape represents a salamander squeeze
the distance and it grows it shrinks when we leave it alone
This is where you froze the mouse you’d half killed
This is where you’ll lie down again with me…

Here is the beef we ate for the iron
We have been invited to a wedding in Austin
Here is the deck the landlord built
Here is our herb garden
Here is my bicycle
You bought a waffle iron…

I do not see the poetic beauty in this poem.
I could even write something like this!


Conclusion: Ansel Adams’ Aspens
13 sentences with enjambment for  visual effect.
Repetition of a few phases…
” To tiny Ansel Adams…”

Focus on SKY:
the sky must seem a miracle
the sky bright and bottomless
the sky must seem a matter of fact
the bright black sky
the sky is what it is

Focus on TREE(s)
trees gnarled as the knees of elephants
renders each tree a bouquet of paper
each tree out there glows with itself

What does Ansel Adams want to do?
— toiling after the spirit, not just the body of America.
— the mind beneath he wants to grasp

This was a very nice poem about Ansel Adams photographs


Conclusion: Still
Did I like any of the poems?
I liked  ONLY ONE POEM    “Still”.
I read it and then listened to A. Darcy read the poem.
It was THE BEST poem in the book.



#Poetry Blakwork (title poem)

  • Author: Alison Whittaker
  • Title: Blakwork
  • Published: 2018
  • Publisher: @MagabalaBooks
  • Trivia: 2019 shortlist Victorian Premier’s Award Indigenous Writing
  • Trivia: 2019 WINNER Mascara Lit Review Avant-garde Award for literature
  • Trivia: 2019 shortlist ABIA Small Publishers’ Adult Book of the Year
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly plan
  • #AWW2019
  • @AusWomenWriters
  • Trivia: Review:  poem  Cotton On   (pg 15)



  1. I was staring at the book  turning it front to back.
  2. Why the choice of a bird on the cover?
  3. Perhaps if you live in Australia  you know what it means.
  4. I had to find out more about the metaphor of a blackbird.
  5. Difficult to read….
  6. Origin of the term ‘blackbirding’:
  7. The term may have been formed
  8. …directly as a contraction of ‘blackbird catching’.
  9. Blackbird’ was a slang term for the local South Pacific indigenous people.
  10. It might also have derived from an earlier phrase,
  11. blackbird shooting’, which referred to
  12. recreational hunting of Aboriginal people by early European settlers


Title poem:      Blakwork  (pg 3)

  1. The sun rises 0530 am on this side of the world.
  2. No matter how hard I try…I’m wide awake at 0600 am.
  3. My eyes are not yet focused so I use a magnifying glass to
  4. …read the first poem in the chapter Whitework.
  5. Blakwork: 41 words that pack a punch.
  6. I didn’t realize that today (26 May) is #SorryDay in Australia
  7. This poem sums up the sentiment of
  8. …reconciliation from an other perspective.


  1. Type of Poem:  poet-in-conversation (present tense)
  2. Who is speaking?  Alison Whittaker the poet
  3. Who is ‘you’  in the poem?    White Australia
  4. Title:   Blakwork
  5. Australia’s slavery started because other countries abolished it.
  6. Aboriginal people were used in
  7. the pearling, sugar cane and cattle industries.
  8. They suffered terrible abuse and were denied their wages.



  1. There is an energy…tension  in this poem.
  2. I tried to discover the  starting subject and
  3. …then the discovered subject in a poem.
  4. There is always a door to be opened the
  5. will lead you down another path
  6. …in this poem a ” cynical path”.


  1. Starting subject:
  2. blakfella works –> payment callous hands –> profit to white Australia
  3. Door: words   “white guilt”
  4. Discovered subject:
  5. Blakfella works –> payment now bound by contract (indentured)
  6. profit –> white Australia can have “soothing” feeling of reconciliation
  7. “nine to five forgiving you.”
  8. #powerful




  • Fresh blakwork; industrial complexes
  • hands with
  • smooth and flat palm callouses.
  •      Soothing re —
  •                         –conciliation
  • That dawdling off-trend meme
  • white guilt. To survive it; well,
  •      it’s naff to say, but compul–
  •                       –sory to do. Indentured blakwork, something like
  • nine to five, forgiv–
  •                      –ing you.



  1. Words I had to look up for a clear meaning of the poem:
  2. industrial complexes – (self-interest ahead of the well being of the Aboriginal people)
  3. dawdling – wasting time, idle, trifle
  4. meme –  behavoir
  5. naff – clichéd, unstylish
  6. indentured – bound by contract



#Poetry Alison Whittaker “Blakwork”

  • Author: Alison Whittaker
  • Title: Blakwork
  • Published: 2018
  • Publisher: @MagabalaBooks
  • Trivia: 2019 shortlist Victorian Premier’s Award Indigenous Writing
  • Trivia: 2019 winner Mascara Lit Review Avant-garde Award for literature
  • Trivia: 2019 shortlist ABIA Small Publishers’ Adult Book of the Year
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly plan
  • #AWW2019
  • @AusWomenWriters
  • Trivia: Review:  poem Blakwork  (pg 3) (title poem)



  1. This book consists of 15 chapters and 94 poems.
  2. I still am trying to learn how to read a poem.
  3. I am going to read a poem …then really try to figure
  4. …out what the message is…or what do I see in the poem.
  5. More of my reviews about these poems
  6. …will appear during the drips and drabs.
  7. These poems will take time to read.
  8. The author has put so much thought into her words
  9. …I don’t want to rush my reading


  1. Poetry does not need a story…that is not its function.
  2. That is why poems sometimes make people cringe!
  3. The reader speaks English, the poem is in English
  4. and still the  reader (me)  has no idea what it means.
  5. This will be my biggest poetry reading challenge.
  6. Just look at the way the poems sit on the page!
  7. I glanced through the book and see images, emojis,
  8. poems with unique shapes, punctuation and lists.


  1. I am not going to review them in lofty poetic terms
  2. …but just by asking myself some basic questions.
  3. What is the shape of the poem? Who is speaking?
  4. What images does the poet use? Allusions?
  5. How do they make me feel? Stumped or enlightened?
  6. I’m even going to read the poems to the cat
  7. …I need to hear the sound!


  1. Poems tells us the history of the human heart.
  2. All poets are struggling with the different things:
  3. loneliness, racism, gender roles, sexuality
  4. colonialism, family, class, history,
  5. …violence, culture, pleasure, joy.
  6. I’m eager to learn what Alison Whittaker….
  7. …is struggling with.



Poem:      Cotton On            (pg 15)


let’s compare hands              s t r e t c h


tendons wrists across            o c e a n s







here: a common                     wound.


Cotton On:

  1. My FIRST reading:  12 words  placed on the page leaving a 10×10 cm blank center page.  words describe hands ready for planting and harvesting. The key word is ‘oceans‘ referring to the overseas labor force that is used in this industry. The blank page could indicate a field that is planted with cotton seeds. TitleCotton On is perhaps a reference to seeds…starting.
  2. I then contacted the poet via Twitter:
  3. “I’m just starting to read poetry and I admit I don’t understand it after a first reading…so I re-read alot. Reading: Cotton on (pg 15) in Blakwork. May I ask…why the big open space in the poem? What am I missing! Thank you for your time #justasking”
  4. Reply  from  Alison Whittaker:
  5. “I try to not be too prescriptive with the poetry, but in Cotton on, the spaces denote the physical space across the pacific between communities wounded by cotton, and the act of stretching out to touch. it’s whatever you make of it!”
  6. My SECOND reading: Then I put my thinking cap on.
  7. Who was wounded by cotton?
  8. USA the slaves on the plantations.
  9. AUS the aboriginals who see their sacred rivers drying up.
  10. The aboriginals say:  “If there’s no river, where’s our culture?”
  11. The landholders (cotton farms) are pumping all the water out
  12. for irragation and water management.
  13. Now I see the connection in the poem.
  14. The slaves and aboriginals are stretching their hands
  15. across the Pacific Ocean.
  16. Both wounded by cotton.
  17. “The last line “here: a common wound.

#Poetry Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith



  1. I’m reading this book very slowly.
  2. I will review a few poems at a time
  3. because I want to give each poem the attention it deserves.
  4. I loved the explanation I learned in
  5. “How Does a Poem Mean?
  6. …about the beauty of poetry and
  7. …the technical sources of this beauty...
  8. by John Ciardi (1916-1986)  who was a
  9. poet, professor Harvard, Rutgers University.
  10. “Greeting cards are pretty…no card is beautiful.”
  11. In Ciardi’s book he teaches the difference between
  12. pretty (greeting card)….and beautiful (poetry)


Comments after my first reading of all the poems in the train:

  1. I read all the poems…could not find any emotional ‘feeling’
  2. with this collection.
  3. I was so disappointed and was about to give this book a 2 score.
  4. Then I told myself…go to bed…sleep on it.
  5. Poet Laureate USA, graduate of Harvard,
  6. …studied with the eminent Helen Vendler (see Google)
  7. and professor at Princeton University
  8. …Smith  MUST be doing something right.
  9. I’m just to blind to see it!
  10. I start a re-read of each poem today!
  11. #GiveBookAChance



Garden of Eden (1 stanza 25 lines)

My reaction: (….personal poem)

  1. Poem describes Smith’s joy of shopping in local Brooklyn Market.
  2. After some research
  3. …a critic claims she is commenting on capitalism in USA.
  4. What?
  5. Is it me…or do pundits go out of their way and try to find the most
  6. erudite explanation for every poem.
  7. The girl just likes some retail therapy…we all do!
  8. Smith mentions:
  9. “Where I seldom shopped,
  10. Only after therapy”.
  11. Shopping in an European Market store…
  12. filled with warmth, abundance and
  13. baskets of colorful and fragrant vegetables and fruit
  14. …foreign cheeses, glossy pasteries,
  15. teas, coffees.
  16. This  “Garden of Eden…is the BEST therapy
  17. Close reading of language:
  18. oxymoron “desolate luxury”
  19. alliteration: “bag of black beluga lentils…”
  20. Assonant rhyme – rhyming of vowels iwith different consonants.
  • “Everyone I knew as living
  • The same desolate luxury
  • Each ashamed of the same thing
  • Innocence and privacy.”


  1. I am unable to discover the hidden meaning of a poem
  2. without the help of  pundits and critics.
  3. In this poem…one sees a message about capitalism
  4. the other see a strong Biblical allusion…I see the
  5. therapeutic  effect of retail-therapy!


The Angels (10 stanzas, 40 lines)

My reaction:  (difficult poem to process…..)

  1. The first 5 stanza’s described
  2. 2 angels in speaker’s motel room.
  3. (clothes, their smell, playing with deck of cards)
  4. They even speak!


  1. “Quake, then fools, and fall away
  2. What God do you imagine we obey?”
  3. Annunciators of death?
  4. “Emissaries for something I needed to see.”


  1. In the last 3 stanza’s are mentioned tree, branches,rain, wind
  2. boulders, mounds of earth, rust-stained pipe
  3. …and “Bright a whorl so dangerous and near”.
  4. Whorl: form that coils, swirls, spirals…..( metaphor for death?)
  5. #Stumped…but trying hard to understand the poem!



  1. My problem I was looking for an object
  2. ….and missed the idea
  3. …inspired by her teacher Lucille Clifton at Columbia University.
  4. Smith was letting strange poems come to her,
  5. as if from outside her own mind —
  6. poems that were telling her about the future.
  7. This conclusion is absolutely
  8. …not apparent by just reading the poem.
  9. I had to do some research about The Angels
  10. …otherwise I’d still be stumped!
  11. Smith was still trying to work though a period of
  12. grief  after losing her mother.
  13. In a class Smith learned from teacher Lucille Clifton
  14. let other voices reach her.
  15. Clifton had just lost her husband and was intimating
  16. …that her dead husband was not exactly dead.
  17. Tracy Smith recalls:
  18. “I remember her saying that there is energy all around us,
  19. communicating with us — if only we could listen,”
  20. In this poem Smith is
  21. indicating a rock (boulder), tree swaying
  22. in the wind, rust-stained pipe…an owl
  23. …are trying to communicate with her.


Last thoughts:

  1. It took me a week to read 32 poems.
  2. Part 1 and Part 3:  are more personal
  3. …accessible but still you need to research
  4. reviews on internet and Tracy K. Smith’s back round
  5. to understand the meaning hidden in layers of language.
  6. Part 2: These are called founded poems and erasure poems
  7. (see Google). Smith uses documents, letters   written by
  8. black African Americans during the Civil War period
  9. …husbands writing wives, soldiers requesting their  pension etc.
  10. #MyJourneyInPoetryContinues