Friday, March 1, 2019

I Wish I'd Written This


After Reading a Certain Poetry Magazine

You know how it is when you read good stuff...
poetry that blows in like a late cool on a stinking day,
all its words and silences exact and uncompromising;
and it wraps relief around your burning eyes, mends
your torn morning and picks up the shit from the driveway...
You know, I know you do,
and you think I’ll never write again,
myself, cos I can’t do that...
But in the back of your head
a line is limping along,
a couple of them, crying a bit,
and elbowing in the queue,
pressing forward to be noticed,
sore, hard done by.
And your fingers flex and fret for a keyboard.

Copyright © Linda Stevenson 2018



I've featured my long-time friend Linda here before, some years ago (at this link). At that stage I and others hoped she'd start a blog and join PU.

Having given it a go for a while, she realised she's not a blogger, preferring to post things briefly on facebook and then submit to literary magazines both on and offline – who often publish her. I keep an eye on her fb posts of course, love a lot of her stuff, and responded especially to this one. I think I hardly need to tell a readership of poets why!

Linda does spoken-word readings as often as she can, and this photo catches her mid-performance. She is also an activist – as much as she can be now, in her crone years, and rather more than most. Social and environmental issues form the subject matter of many of her poems. 

Ken Smeaton, whom I featured a couple of weeks ago, is our mutual friend. The photo I used in that post was taken at Linda's home.

Linda was once Melbourne City Librarian (which meant she was in charge of several municipal libraries based around the inner suburbs). When the Poets Union of Australia formed (in the late seventies) Linda offered us a meeting place at North Melbourne Library.

It was in that heady era of 'taking poetry off the page' that we both met Ken. It was a long time ago now, but a number of those poetic friendships have lasted.

Back in those days, although she always wrote, she was too busy helping other poets to publicise her own work. (I was one of the recipients of her generosity. She supported and encouraged me in many ways.) I'm glad she is finally putting her own poetry out there and gaining a following.



************

Speaking of Ken Smeaton, I was horrified to discover I had inadvertently left out half his featured poem in the February 15 post! I have rectified the matter, but I think too late for many of you to see it. So here is the full poem again, now:




The Poem

Welcome to the last, great
non-commercial art form.

Remarked, unsung,
oxygen, in the swamp of images.

Gaze on these words, reckon
how deep you can go into my dream.

Immerse in my clear stream,
nourish the meadows of your attention.

Listen to my water song
and drink deeply.

Escape in me to other worlds, where I whisper

silk across your skin, drip plum juice off your chin.

If you are uncomfortable here,
let me walk with you, I will be your guide.

The way to read a poem is often.
Walk with me often to the end

where I will leave you,
your heart full, my burden eased.

– Ken Smeaton 
from Love Poet Live (Melbourne, Eaglemont Press, 2001.)




Material shared in 'I Wish I'd Written This' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings remain the property of the copyright owners, usually their authors.

10 comments:

  1. Oh my GOODNESS! My spirit is restored. Linda's poem is EXACTLY how I feel, reading other peoples' spectacular poems....then, yes, the fingers itching for a keyboard. Linda has lived a most wonderful life - a librarian who encouraged other writers. What a wonderful friendship the three of you have shared. I felt, at the end of Ken's poem, as if I had just drunk deeply, as he encouraged. A wonderful share, Rosemary. Thank you.

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    Replies
    1. I love best of all his line, 'The way to read a poem is often.'

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  2. Love both these poems. And that line by Ken, "The way to read a poem is often."...Wow! Thank you for sharing. I'll sure go look Linda up on FB.

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  3. Great poem by Linda Stevenson. I found myself nodding during it; and yes, I know how it is to read SUCH good poetry and to think I will never write again as nothing I could write could compare! But, alas, my fingers continue to go on flexing! Smiles.

    Loved the entire poem by Ken Smeaton as well. Yes --the way to read a poem is often! And I like very much the idea of walking one to the end!

    Thank you, Rosemary, for your research & your sharing!

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  4. That first poem left me mind-shouting, "No, I wish I'd written this, Rosemary!" Love the imagery and the truth of it.

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  5. Awesome poems ~ BOTH OF THEM SO AUTHENTIC ~ Totally related to Linda's piece (as in: been there - bought the T-shirt - related). Thanks for the updates, Rosemary.

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  6. This is fantastic Rosemary. Two magical poems about poetry! What poetry does to us so beautifully explored. "Welcome to the last, great / non-commercial art form." & "poetry that blows in like a late cool on a stinking day," tell us all.

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  7. How wonderful that you know these two talented poets. Wonderful too that they know you. I enjoyed reading both of these poems and feel as if they'd been written for me. Thank you for featuring them Rosemary. You have such great taste.

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