Friday, July 6, 2012

I Wish I'd Written This

Light Surge
by Susan Hampton

When I think about you
I get that surge to the brain and bones
my hair remembers its origins
calendars deal out time more slowly
I like walking around at twilight
so I can concentrate
the sun reminds me
and the changing light, of you.

I see how everything passes —
day to night, death to opening stalks
and what can I say more
but that light passing over me shines from
my idea of you, the rose-coloured glasses
you watched me so carefully making.

from "White Dog Sonnets"

In the seventies and eighties Susan Hampton, then living in Sydney, was prominent among the generation of 'performance poets' who embraced the Poets' Union of Australia and sought to take poetry 'off the page'. On the page, her poems shine with intellect and wit, but it's when you hear her speak them that they come fully alive. I'm sorry, I couldn't find a recording of this love poem, but there are recordings here of some others from a later book, with accompanying texts. This site also lists her books, and her several literary prizes.

Always interested in promoting the work of other Australian poets, she and Kate Llewellyn edited the important anthology, The Penguin Book of Australian Women Poets in 1986 (still available from Amazon).

She has also authored short stories, and, as you can read in more detail in the bios I've linked to, she has been a teacher of writing and literature at various universities. She now lives in Canberra and works as a freelance editor.

I find that I don't know what more to say about Susan, although we were great friends in the old days and remember each other affectionately.  Perhaps that is because, while being very much her own woman, and a strongly individual one, she is also one who cares little for fame. She does, however, care about art and the making of it.

I particularly love her book White Dog Sonnets from which the above poem is taken. The whole book may be read at Australian Poetry Library. (They are modern sonnets, variants from the traditional form.)

Poems and photos used in ‘I Wish I’d Written This’ remain the property of the copyright holders (usually their authors).


  1. Wonderful poem. "My hair remembers its origins" -so internal and such a surprise.

  2. I was struck by the same line as Lorna........a wonderful poem and an extremely interesting poet. Rosemary, you are very connected to some major names in poetry - what a gloriously talented circle you move in, in Australia. Thanks for bringing these great talents to us every week. I always look forward to Fridays!

  3. What an impressive poem, Rosemary!! I wish I had written it too.

  4. I love this poem! It exudes romance and the notions of one's vision being altered, all in the name of love~ Thank you for sharing her!
    She is so talented :D

  5. I can also greatly appreciate someone who cares little about fame but much about art! Definitely a good choice of poet / poem.

  6. I really like this poem you have selected of hers to share. I'm definitely going to check out White Dog Sonnets. Thanks Rosemary!


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