Friday, January 10, 2014

I Wish I'd Written This

Poem for John
By Alison Croggon

You ask for a poem
and I say
I have no poem

here the sky
which embraces both of us
in this single world
is blue
and I read
that birds sing
between the bombs
in Iraq

no balance
no consolation
and no answer
as the angel of history
turns its vengeful face
towards us all

you are right

we need poems
as we need bread
we hunger for that blue
human milk
to nourish our largeness
to minister our pain
and our love

here is your poem

(From Ash, Cusp Books, LA 2006. © Alison Croggon)

Both poem and photograph are copyright, and are used with permission.

I first met Alison Croggon when she was a young poet in Melbourne in the early eighties, and already one of Australia's most beautiful lyric poets. She had worked as a journalist, and I remember thinking what an asset that must be to a poet — all that training in cutting out unnecessary words.

Her first book of poetry, This is the Stone, won two of Australia's most prestigious poetry prizes, the Anne Elder Award (for a first book of poetry) and the Dame Mary Gilmore Prize. She is also a successful playwright, fantasy novelist and librettist. She continued with the journalism, well-known as a theatre critic writing for literary publications and more recently in her blog, Theatre Notes.

Her website is the best place to find out more about Alison, with links to her wonderful fantasy series, her 'biography that explains everything', other poems, and lots more. Don't forget to look for further links from these links. You can find her books at her Amazon page.

I admire all her poetry,  which does uniquely beautiful things with language. This particular piece appeals to me in its simple directness and its restraint — and of course for what it says in its conclusion.

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


  1. ...this is an absolute delight to read, Rosemary... i loved it... & i'll be heading off to dig more of her poetry...smiles...

  2. I cannot thank you enough for introducing me to this poet. I'm off to learn more about her.

  3. like kelvin and Susan, I too am appreciative of you introducing me to this delightful poet. I also, will be 'digging' up more.

    I truly love the 'Poem for John'.

    Gracias, Rosemary

  4. Rosemary, you seem to know personally some of the best poets! This poem is fantastic, especially the birds singing between the bombs in Iraq. Wow! An interesting poet, I will check her out. Thank you so much!!

  5. Rosemary, I really like the style of this poem. Simple, yet filled with meaning. So true that we need poems as we need bread. Either would be impossible to live without. I can definitely see why you admire her poetry, Rosemary.

  6. I too love Croggan's work...she puts me in mind of this quote from William Carlos Williams -- “It is difficult to get the news from poems, yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.” Thanks for reminding me of someone who tells it like it is and makes it poetic in the telling.


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