My Poetry 20 November 2013

During my life as I experimented with different forms of writing I kept writing poetry in abeyance. It seemed to require more time than I had, a particular mindset and an emotional pull so different to the practical, disciplined thinking required when I worked as a solicitor or senior systems manager etc that I worried I’d get lost in it.


I consider myself a reader or consumer of poetry and I turn to reading poetry when sick, particularly emotional, in need of solace, or pensive before I go to sleep. I’ve read poetry all my life.


I believe that a poet, in James Stephens words, is able to “give wings to words” and that poetry is a universal art and more akin to music than any other art form. It lifts me to a place where I wonder at the marvel of life and think I can glimpse infinity.


I’m not a poet but what I do have a little in common with poets is that my senses and feelings are super-acute (just ask the people I’ve lived with – my husband, daughter, grandparents, parents and 4 sisters!). And, when I’m in that state I write poetry. It can last a long time.


I’ve striven to learn a little bit about a poet’s craft with words. In 2009 I studied with Julie Chevalier for 6 months, wonderful. I’m soon to do a one-day course with Professor Peter Minter (I’m very scared). I did a Poetry Course at the NSW Writers’ Centre a couple of years ago and I presented a complicated Italian sonnet I'd written about friezes I'd seen in the Museum of Antiquity in Rome and the poet/lecturer said “I don’t know that form” and “I’ve got no comments about that”. She (unnamed) was very rude. I haven’t done a poetry course since but it didn’t stop me writing poems.


My first published poem is ‘What Ocean Will I Breathe’ published in the Poetica Christie Anthology, Taking Flight, 2012. Since then I’ve had two other poems printed in newspapers.


My favourite poets are Robert Frost, Kahil Gibran, Walk Whitman, Thomas Eliot, Kumi. W.H. Auden, John Donne and Kenneth Slessor. Remember, I taught Higher School Certificate English.


Some of my favourite poems are: Robert Frost, Mending Wall and Birches and Apple Picking; Kahil Gibran, The Prophet; Kenneth Slessor, Five Bells; John Donne’s The Flea; D.H. Lawrence, Snake; and, Elizabeth Bishop, The Fish. Umm ... do you think I like animals and nature? The poems that have influenced me deeply are T.S. Eliot’s The Hollow Men and Gerard Manly Hopkin’s Pied Beauty.


The Australian modern poet I’m reading at the moment is Carolyn Gerrish. I like her view from the moon.


Good books recommended by Julie Chevalier to learn about poetry are:

Mary Oliver, “A Poetry Handbook: A Prose Guide to Understanding and Writing Poetry”, Harcourt Books, 1994.


Frances Mayers, “The Discovery of Poetry: A Field Guide to Reading and Writing Poems", Harcourt Books, 2001.


If you’ve read this far … wow,  thank you. I'll go back to my poetry writing now ...


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