Thursday, 6 November 2008

Me and poetry...

Clancy Of The Overflow – Banjo Patterson

I had written him a letter which I had,
for want of better
Knowledge, sent to where I met him down the Lachlan, years ago,
He was shearing when I knew him, so I sent the letter to him,
Just `on spec', addressed as follows, `Clancy, of The Overflow'.

And an answer came directed in a writing unexpected,
(And I think the same was written with a thumb-nail dipped in tar)
'Twas his shearing mate who wrote it, and verbatim I will quote it:`
Clancy's gone to Queensland droving, and we don't know where he are.'

I have to tell you I never really liked much poetry until very recently when I started to read
Surfing the Meridian. I think that had a lot to do with my level of patience and nothing to do with the actual poem – though in saying that, there are some poems that are so bloody existential that clearly they are beyond me. Am I dumb? Maybe sometimes – everyone has dumb moments. It’s more that the writers of these poems are on some level I am never going to access and that’s okay. If we all understood each other how bloody boring would that be? And let’s face it, there are many people who would consider romance writers as divas (only on a Tuesday), airheads (between 2 – 5pm Thursday) or totally unrealistic (every alternative day). But hey – you write what you write and I would no more justify myself to someone else let apologize for what I do….speaking of which no e-book pirates emailed me – see yesterday’s blog. Damn shame that.

Anyway – back to poetry, I wrote this god-awful poem when I was 13. I had to – it was a school assignment. It was ghastly. I knew it. I can’t remember the whole poem but it had the line “And then he met a girl, the only girl who set his heart in a whirl.” Pukeable. I remember it as my mother often quoted it to tease me. Imagine my horror, as a teenager, when I had to stand up in front of the whole school and recite it because it was deemed ‘so good.’ The worse thing was I had to follow this angst ridden teenager that’s poem was about ‘red boxes, rubber bands and faceless movie stars on rollerskates gazing into refrigerators while eating bananas…okay – not quite but you know what I mean. There was a deep meaning behind her poem and everyone, although not sure what it was, knew it was ‘real poetry’ because it came from the soul. Mine came from mad-I-want-to-watch-TV- homework scribble. Anyway, I got up and rattled off my poem and people clapped. There was no meaning behind it other than it rhymed really well and I passed whatever test it was.

So, my point is – and I have one – words are just that and they effect people differently. People read romance because they want the journey with the happy ending. Poetry may not have the happy ending but it speaks to your emotions. I love Australian poetry because I love my country. So read what you want – think and be and seek what you want and don’t justify it.

And the hurrying people daunt me, and their pallid faces haunt me

As they shoulder one another in their rush and nervous haste,
With their eager eyes and greedy, and their stunted forms and weedy,

For townsfolk have no time to grow, they have no time to waste.

And I somehow rather fancy that I'd like to change with Clancy,

Like to take a turn at droving where the seasons come and go,
While he faced the round eternal of the cash-book and the journal --
But I doubt he'd suit the office, Clancy, of `The Overflow'.
Go ahead: Live with abandon. Be outrageous at any age. What are you saving your best self for?