I’ve just returned from a week’s holiday on the West Coast (of Honshu) to find that the third edition of the Australian/Asian poetry journal Mascara is now online. It includes three of mine – cello, Danny in detention and The koan before the satori. I share this high-quality publication with poets Thanh Thao, Diane Fahey, Papa Osumbal, Bonny Cassidy, Ian Irvine, Lorne Johnson, Maria Freij, Mark Tredinnick, Philip Hammial, Sam Byfield, Sue King-Smith, Arlene Ang, Vivienne Glance, Greg McLaren, Jill Chan, Lou Smith, Mario Licón Cabrera, Marcelle Freiman, Sherryl Clark, Terry McArthur and Andrew Slattery and reviewers/ essayists Michelle Cahill, Boey Kim Cheng, Peter Boyle and Paul Sharrad.Thanks to the editors for selecting and publishing my work.
Thankyou to Justin Lowe for publishing my poem The Teachings of the Buddha on his bluepepper website. While this is its first publication, I actually wrote this one when we journeyed to northern India and Bhutan soon after the terrible tsunami in 2004. While Lyn had gone off to visit a Buddhist convent I stayed in bed and woke late morning in a delirium induced by fever and the very high altitude. The only thing at hand to read was the Buddhist equivalent of the Gideon’s Bible, and the quote and strange experience are described in the poem as they happened. We wrote an account of our Bhutan travels for the South Australian Geographer journal as “Magical Land of the Thunder Dragon” and it was later also published on the Australian Reader website.
A post from my 2006 Archives:10/03/06: rob: “The final day of Writers’ Week and in a wonderful moment of synchronicity I was able to introduce Juan Garrido-Salgado to Yahia al-Samawy- both poets who had been imprisoned and tortured for their political beliefs and writings. Juan introduced me to Tom Shapcott (who’s retired from teaching and now lives in Melbourne) and Geoff Goodfellow was wandering past so I introduced him to all! Later, under the shade of plane and palm trees on a beautiful hot Adelaide afternoon, Juan and Yahia told me the details of their torture in prison.. and I’ve never been so grateful to have led a mundane life..”
Sadly, this year I’m missing the buzz of one of the world’s great literary festivals. But a package of the 3 recently-launched Friendly Street poetry publications arrived on my apartment doorstep a couple of days ago and I’m madly devouring. There will be reviews soon. Incidentally, it’s exactly two years ago that Louise Nicholas and I launched the anthology THIRTY:
06/03/06: “Thanks to all concerned who made the Launch of our 3 Friendly Street publications a great success at Adelaide Writers’ Week yesterday. Special thanks to Sandy McCutcheon for taking the time not just to launch THIRTY, but to have read the entire collection prior to the day & pass on his positive comments to the poets. Thanks too to Jaya Savige for selecting the winner of the NOVA prize for best unpublished poet. The winner was a very excited Helen Lindstrom. Congratulations, Helen”
Looking back through the archives yesterday I realised it was 4 years since my poem Heads in the clouds was published in the Australian Education Union Journal. Prior to that it was only the second poem of mine to be published in an anthology. (UNO, ed. Verian Thomas.) I still get a kick out of having work selected for a collection. It’s an affirmation that someone else appreciates something you’re trying to say and values the way it’s expressed. (Note that, apart from the oblique biblical reference, the school next-door to my State school is a catholic school, Emmaus, which always gets our weather a few seconds later!)
Heads in the clouds
( the road to Emmaus )
Children’s souls are sympathetic to the Elements..
A windy day
Like birds before a storm.
The wispy bank of clouds from the Gulf
blows across the Ranges
over the mortgaged houses..
The skylight frames
As the pushingshoving gaggle explodes into the room..
A five year old voice thrills.
Overhead Teutonic Window
Virtual Reality screen
They lie on wrigglingbacks and watch in wondering awe as trails of vapour dissipate against a square of blue in theceiling
While i improvise on Emin7 and Amin7 andcall it Music for Watching Clouds By.
The guitar finishes.
i join them on their backs on the carpet
watching the exhiliration of the Commonplace
through their unwearied eyes.