A postscript on Utopia

Coincidentally - a word that tricks chance into being fate - I was reading this week Maria Popova's account of Wisława Szymborska's celebration of not knowing. Szymborska said, in her acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize, that it is from the humility of not knowing that inspiration comes - in any profession, not merely writing: "Inspiration... Continue Reading →

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Poem: Losing my direction

This morning I have posted an old post that was caught in the wordpress software, and begged to be released, on the borderlands of madness. And a fast follow-up - this new poem on losing my direction. Losing my direction The mornings drift away now. Spikes in my hair no more. Seventeen seconds reminds me... Continue Reading →

Craft, voice and the fire

"We all know poetry isn’t a craft that you can just turn on and off. It has to strike fire somewhere, and truth, maybe unpleasant truth about yourself, may be the thing that does that." Robert Lowell, from a letter quoted in Setting the River on Fire: A Study of Genius, Mania, and Character (2017) by... Continue Reading →

Poem: Snow falls on the suburban plain

Here is a poem that I will before too long include in a collection titled Dr Cogito's Rebellion. Snow falls on the suburban plain. I shelter, wrapped in a library of wool. The prophecies of last winter Stand unproven before me. Was the doom of governments so sure? Did the blood-dimm’d tide swell and fall... Continue Reading →

The poet in a time of terror

In December 2017 a man in a black SUV drove his car into a group of pedestrians crossing the street outside Flinders Street station in central Melbourne. The incident had occurred less than a year since the Bourke St event, two city blocks away, leading to the deaths of six people, a traumatised city, a... Continue Reading →

Cantos from a cage

What thou lovest well remains,                                                   the rest is dross What thou lov’st well shall not be reft from thee What thou lov’st well is thy true heritage Whose world, or mine or theirs                                             or is it of none? First came the seen, then thus the palpable... Continue Reading →

Poem: the tethered mind

The tethered mind The mind prowls, tethered to its past. An unknown unknown rises from An unclaimed grave of awkward glances. The waves come for the fallen swimmer Again and again. They roll fast. They suck his feet into the undertow. A macadamia tree in a shadowed grove, Where dreams were made, Rots and blackens,... Continue Reading →

Elegy

A little under two weeks ago my mother died. I gave the eulogy at her funeral, and have composed this elegy as a way of working through the grief. Elegy There is no world but this one, Yet we are incomplete; Left stranded and voiceless When the anima disappears in the sea. Helplessly, we cry... Continue Reading →

Cultural collapse: Delhi 1857

"This whole city has become a desert." Ghalib 1861 William Dalrymple's The Last Mughal: the Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi 1857 is a great tragedy, and its fallen hero is the culture of the Mughal court. Under Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar II (1775-1862), the Mughal court and Delhi society experienced a cultural renaissance of sorts.... Continue Reading →

Poem: peaches in a bowl

Today, a poem composed on the day of my daughter's departure to study in Europe for five months. Peaches in a bowl There it stands The Indian metal bowl Silver outside Burnt orange and black streaks Glossed in its basin Inside arranged with care Each sticker taken from the skin Eight peaches and five nectarines... Continue Reading →

Sailing to Byzantium

Since I am on holidays from work, and not consumed with duties and obligations, I have returned to an old habit of virtue, and spent time memorising poetry. The poem I am committing to memory today is Yeats' Sailing to Byzantium. The choice of this poem itself was prompted by reading Richard Fidler's Ghost Empire,... Continue Reading →

A task: from Milosz to me

A short post. The miracle of literature: how words crafted for another voice, at another time, pierce the carapace of habit, strike at deep wounds, and reveal a way of being. From my reading last night: The Task (Czeslaw Milosz) In fear and trembling, I think I would fulfill my life Only if I brought... Continue Reading →

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