Women, Work and Wandering Poetry Reading

I had great fun on the weekend reading at this festival event: thanks to a wonderful and receptive audience for making this such a enriching experience.

Here I am -in black and white and in colour – reading amongst some of the terrific art works!

I think maybe the most enthusiastically received poem was ‘Clothesline’ – a poem that comes from my book, Even in the Dark (UWAP 2013). It’s a little window both into the pleasures of doing laundry and the possibilities for that interstitial moment , when we see the ordinary in a different way:

Clothesline

To walk between the brightly coloured flags

of washing –

to gently stroke the fall

of drying fabric,

rearranging peg and angle

so that every fold

might find the fullness of the summer air;

to smell the hard-won clarity of

cotton,                 

rising crisp and warm in the sun –

is to find a sweet hiatus in the day,

a moment

in the linearity of task and achievement  –

in case you’re wondering,

this is not masochism,

or some throwback to the rigidity

of ancient roles:

instead, listen –

a faint hum amongst the tomato plants and

the marigolds and

it is possible to hear this

humble poetry of the backyard,

this ceremony of daily love –

gathering, sorting,

washing,

ready –

for the rich harvest of the basket.

Walt Whitman in the Hospitals of the Civil War

As many of you will know, it’s just recently been the 200th anniversary of Walt Whitman’s birth – that amazing American poet of teeming cities, meditations on life and loving, and of course that great and terrible experience of the Civil War. My poem, selected for this celebratory collection, Endlessly Rocking (ed Stan Galloway and Nicole Yurcaba), takes as its point of reference, the figure of Whitman as he travelled to the hospitals of the Civil War, horrified by the scale of the suffering and spectacle and beauty of so many violently damaged young men.

The poem is dedicated not only to Whitman himsef, that ‘bewhiskered emissay,’ but to my friend, fellow writer and Whitman -o-phile, Lindsay Tuggle.

Impossible: a mourning cycle

This is from a cycle of poems written in memory of my dear young friend, Sophie Ellis. This particular poem is for her mother, my dear friend Kerry.


Detail from Michelangelo’s ‘Pieta’ (1488-89), St Peter’s Basilica

Pietà

For Kerry Dawson

Lay her here,
heavy as stone
across my shoulder, breast, the generosity of lap;

I long for this weight

Let the cataract of her hair fall
over my arms, across my face,
covering my eyes:

Child of my blood and sinew,
beloved daughter of my dreaming,
turn your face toward me
again,
here, into the crook of my neck;

I have shielded you before:

And in the hollows of the night when
my arms lie useless and
desperate for you –

then lean against me again,
returned to me on this crushing
tide of longing,
scooped out of darkness –

be present and
homed
beside the persistent beating of my heart.

Drifting….with Mary Oliver

I wrote this paper a few years ago now in Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledges – but I’ve been returning to this ‘epistemology of wandering’ as evoked so wonderfully by Oliver’s poetic.

Ramble! Enjoy!


‘Drifting in the Weeds of Heaven: Mary Oliver and the Poetics of the Immeasurable’

http://www.rhizomes.net/issue13/lucas.html