Friday favourites


It’s been a little while but I wanted to share a couple of today’s favourites with you.

First, Cordite Poetry Review has a new un-themed edition featuring 60 new poems, translations, two chapbooks, artwork and two essays. I particularly liked Marion May Campbell’s essay on Shipwrecks in Modern European Painting and Poetry: Radical Mobilisation of the Motif as Political Protest where she traces the political in art’s interest in shipwrecks from the Wreck of Medusa, via Rimbaud’s The Drunken Boat, Adrienne Rich’s Diving into the Wreck to the present where asylum seekers make perilous journeys on dodgy boats.

“you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land

writes Warsan Shire a Somali born British poet.

I also liked Claire Gaskin’s editorial for this edition where she talks about how she chose the poetry for this volume…

‘Poetry is not about something it is something being…

I choose poems with leaps of perception in them and language under pressure, poems with sustained extended thought and development. I choose poems that were consciously aware of the creative potential of language.

Another current fave is Lisa Gorton’s new volume Empirical (Giramondo Poets 2019). In this, her 3rd volume, she describes like walking over the ground, her visits to a particular park in Melbourne. Royal Park in Central Melbourne is a location full of history and she layers this like sediment: the first Europeans, the army camp, the home for wayward children, the zoo and so on. In the second section of the book she expands out into the world – poems on Coleridge writing Kubla Khan, London’s Crystal Palace ( World Fair, 1851) and, my favourite, Aphrodite of Melos – which tells of the uncovering of the Venus statue in a field in the Greek island of Melos. In the excavation…

‘They broke her arms off when they dragged her out—/ In her left hand she held a mirror…’

And here, as all poets do, the poet imagines…

The mirror she holds is a polished shield—
on the side she turns towards us, painted gold,
a warrior runs from a the burning city, his father
clinging to his back, son crying behind—
The sky, though made of gold, looks dark with smoke—
the statue looks into its other side in which there is
not one thing more real than another—rank
after rank of light between the mirror and its eyes—

Image: Laure Albin-Guilot, ‘The packing of the Venus de Milo’ and for a little automata fun, here’s Terry Riley with Dorian Reeds 

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