A New Poet Discovered

At our U3A today I was introduced to a new poet, a Scottish poet Kathleen Jamie born in 1961, and in 1994 picked as one of the ‘new generation poets’. Some of her poems use quite a bit of Scots ( which I discovered is different from Gaelic and Celtic languages.) Listening to her reading her work on Youtube helps to appreciate her writing. Thanks to Betty who introduced our Poetry Appreciation Group to this new work.
I would like to share this small poem Landfall by Kathleen Jamie

Landfall

When we walk at the coast,
and notice, above the sea,
a single ragged swallow
veering towards the earth
and blossom scented breeze,
can we allow ourselves to fail?

It reminds me of that equisite poem The Death of The Bird by A.D. Hope beginning:

“For every bird there is this last migration;”

and my favourite story The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde

“Little swallow, little swallow will you stay with me one last night?”

I am sure both these references can be read on google and a wonderful experience will be had to find them.

The Price of War

It is Anzac day 2016.
The serenity of dawn captures my imagination.
The lake looks like a mirror.
It reflects tiny fluffs of soft pink cloud,
The calmness is palpable.
We in our hundreds turn from the memorial,
at The Entrance to face the lake
and are all drawn towards it
not a sound spoken
as all were under its spell.

How do we allow the narrative of war
and its old lie
made up by those who send the young off
for their benefits . . .
how do we allow it to continue?
When will we say enough
and really mean the words
less we forget?

The following poem has been shared on facebook today by friends. Thanks to Carol for bringing it to my notice. Can we hear it’s message?

Dulce et Decorum

Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime…
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

This poem is in the public domain.

A Review of A Call to Listen

 

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Call to Listen

by Colleen Keating

Published by Ginninderra Press
Reviewed by Judith O’Connor
This stylishly produced collection of some eighty poems,
with a particularly tasteful and pleasing cover, is just what it says – a plea to stop
our activities and busyness and start looking, listening and observing the world around us. The poet supplies us with any number of simple examples:

it’s a hard thing to love a rock
you need to receive it as a gift
spend time
commune
gaze . . . (‘How to Love a Rock’)

and:

. . . a fallen water tank; rusted blood red . . .

(‘Abandoned’)

But we quickly see that the range of topics and inspiration,
is far wider and deeper than what at first may appear incidental.
The collection is cleverly arranged into eight separate categories,
taking in a wide sweep of the poet’s life and experiences.
I particularly enjoyed the verses inspired by outback Australia
for which the poet has borrowed (and referenced) the words of Mary McKillop
‘We are but Travellers Here’. Having trekked to the summit of Mt. Sondar and hiked in many of the poet’s footsteps (‘Ormiston Pound’), I was surprised and delighted to read her award winning ‘Daybreak over Mt. Sondar’ and its moving description of the dawn:

…in the beginning
air static as a nylon petticoat pulled over my hair
fingerprints of red ruby . . . (‘Daybreak over MT. Sondar’)

Every page brings fresh and, at times, challenging verses on a range of human emotions from ‘Almost Dawn’ with its sensuality:

… he turns
arms cocoon me
in an aura of warmth
his breath tingles
in the dip of my neck . . .  (‘Almost Dawn’)

to ‘At the Nursing Home’:

… I fill the foot bath
my elbow checks the tepid water … (‘At the Nursing Home’)

Another of my favourites, ‘Sisters’:

… we lunch together
we celebrate
the milestone of another decade
and that word ‘remission’ a green shoot springing
from the scarred black earth…

But from being a poem full of depression and sorrow, it ends magnificently:

….we splurge
with our lust for life
toast with a glass of bubbly
Joie de vivre (‘Sisters’)

The poets voice changes to anger and outrage in other poems such as ‘Guantanamo Bay’ ( . . . this is a poem not to be read aloud; for it speaks of solitaire confinement …) and ‘War on Terror’ ( … it’s coming; through a hole in the air) along with poems reflecting visits to Japan and Fromelles.

Whatever the reader’s mood, quest or interest, these poems are sure to satisfy, surprise and inspire.