So PR affords a sort of short-cut for anyone interested in poetry, but perhaps lacking time or inclination for detailed study. It's a way to access a vibrant part of contemporary culture. But the magazine, and the work it publishes, are of course more than that. Poetry Review understands that poetry may be many things to many people: samizdat semaphore, cultural debate, the expression of a variety of voices or, perhaps above all, a form which allows the exploration of major moral, political and epistemological questions. Recent issues, for example, have focused on the risks and gains of politicised culture and on the new eco-poetics. Moreover, since it is neither necessarily fiction, nor as answer-led as the essay, the poem can 'tell the whole truth but tell it slant', as Emily Dickinson has it. In doing so it can show the reader how to make sense for him- or herself of the range of often-highly-determined texts with which contemporary culture surround us.
Though these poems are taken from a recent issue (98:4, The Ghost in the Machine), they are representative, in their seriousness and range, of the magazine as a whole (even though, naturally, we have a spread of gender and cultures in every issue).
Fiona Sampson firstname.lastname@example.org
Night of love
Translated by Michael Lyons and Patrick Drysdale
In a night of love after a long night I have learnt to speak again and I wept because a word came out of me. I have again learnt to walk, walked up to the window and said hunger and light and night was fine by me for light. After an overlong night slept peacefully again, trusting in this, I spoke more easily in the dark, spoke on through the day, ran my fingers over my face, I am no longer dead. A bush, from which fire struck in the night. My avenger stepped out and called himself life. I even said: let me die, and meant without fear my more cherished death.
(from Ich weiss keine bessere Welt [c] Piper Verlag 2000)
The butcher arrives with a love song he learned from his father. Out on the kill floor, veiled in a butterslick circumflex of marrowfat and bone, he rinses off the knife and goes to work, his voice so sweet, the children come to hear the beauty of it, slipped between a vein and what the veal calf thought would last forever. Barely a shudder rises through the hand that holds the blade and yet he guides it down so gently, it falls open, like a flower. And still the children come, to hear him sing, his voice so soft, it's no more than a whisper.
The note produced
The sixty-four foot organ pipe, the low C, shuddering Jesus Christ, the engine room that makes cathedrals dive, dive, dive, fathoms of flue that drill into the bedrock, shift knuckles and long bones in the crypt, and you can feel the bottom line right where the ribs all congregate, a shiver trapped and brought to life.
- Tracy Ryan
Tracy and I are less than two years apart in age. We have similar but different life experiences of growing up. We both emerged in the same corner of the world. I did high school in the country, she did a bit of primary school in the country. We both spent a lot of time in Perth when Perth was different. She was from a suburb bordering the hills, I was from an inner southern river suburb that bordered hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of acres of bush, as well as a swampy limb of the river that became a creek. Old Bateman's farm was down there, and cows got stuck in the silty riverflats. Tracy spent most of her time in her suburb, I spent a lot of my time out of the city. At the farm, or maybe north to see my father. Sand was big in the city but rare on the farm. Red-brown dirt up there. Not sand that'd pour through your fingers. Not sand that was black and let water run through like there was no end to the earth. Not sand that was yellow as if it had been dyed, sickly and sweet at once. It would set rock hard. Being hit by a rock of that could break your skull. Not white sand that would grow nothing but looked and felt so clean. Sandpits. Pleasure. Fetish. Exhuming the lost, lifted out as easily slipped in and away. Hungry, but ready to give it up. Brought in from the beaches: the thin river beaches in need of topping up. At night, early in the morning, shovel and sacks, robbing the public, the behest, the dyadic self. The flat discs of jellyfish: moon translucent, never quiet: you see nothing but sand caked on their eating parts. Or the spotted mottled brown jellyfish with its bunched-up, thick tentacles, cloying beads of sand. That's what comes of endosymbionts, tossed up in their armadas. Their multiplicity is sandlike and yet we draw few analogies from it. Like brown jellyfish in the hourglass. As if humour is everything in childhood, and we're not serious and bleak drying on the sand, digging so it will collapse, so it will give way. The edifices to be knocked down, eaten by breeze and slight tidal shift of the river. Though in winter the jetties gulp for breath, sand in cracks floats out. Sand of the river, slowly making its way down to the river mouth. Sand that sets when you come out of the murky river, a Swan River Whaler sighting, and all your tension about swimming lessons sets as a new skin that dries and cracks and even peels away. That sand too. But there was no real sand up at the farm. If it poured it was as dust, up there, in the valley. Clouds that swarmed and rolled and choked. The fine film that covered like a lyrical aftertaste. Gritted your eyes, but you didn't need to pick the grains out, finer, it wept away. But where I went to school in Geraldton - coastal town where sand plains are farmed against the lack of rain, where you travel inland to search out the stony country of the next people, the Yamaji elder telling his mate that he's crossing over just about now, on the road to Mount Magnet.
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|Date:||Jun 22, 2009|
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