Ep 109. The frustration of Five Bells

Kenneth Slessor’s Five Bells has frustrated and eluded me for years. In this episode I wrestle with its strange legacy, entertaining the idea that this poem isn’t so much an elegy for a specific person as it is a lament for lost potential among artists in Australia more generally.

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Ep 108. Bonny Cassidy on image, history and reckoning

In this episode I finally sit down with my friend and poetry mentor Bonny Cassidy. We talk about her relationship to visual art, how she sees her earlier work, the poets and writers her books have been in conversation with (and how that’s changed) and her new project on bearing witness to First Nations’ experience. We also touch on what it is to be an emerging poet in Australia today.

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Ep 107. Joanne Kyger’s triple rainbow

I previously wrote off Joanne Kyger as too enamoured with her first drafts, but after reading Robert Adamson’s Bolinas Bay, an Ode (dedicated to Kyger) I’ve had a change of heart.

In this episode I look at Kyger’s poems June 7, ‘I’m Very Busy Now So I Can’t Answer All Those Questions About Beat Women Poets’ and ‘Stoutly Maintains I Never Rewrite’, along with her 1997 interview in Jacket magazine.

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Ep 106. David Brooks on opening

‘Some of the things we hold most dear about poetry may be things that we have to clear our minds of, in order that we see other things more clearly.’

After admiring his work for many years, I had the chance to talk with David Brooks at his home in the Blue Mountains back in June. We talked about his latest book The Grass Library (Brandl & Schlesinger, 2019) along with the role of poetry in his life today, how he sees his previous collections, animal rights, ancient Chinese poetry, recognition and more.

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Ep 105. A found poem for spring

Look, I don’t love e e cummings. But his influence is hard to ignore completely (even if I have ignored it for 104 episodes). Here I look at a poem of his – found handwritten in a very old anthology – and talk a little about springtime, legacy, old-school avant-gardism and future echoes.

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Ep 104. Pam Brown: Skeptical optimism in a post-human age

Plastic orchids, a foggy morning, the differences between ‘basically’ and ‘literally’ – Pam Brown could make any material into a poem and it would somehow work. It was an absolute joy to talk to Pam about what she’s reading, how Sydney continues to change, how she puts her poems together, what it is to write poetry in the early 21st century, and what the purposes of such an activity might be.

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Ep 103. Finally reading Donald Hall

I’ve resisted reading Donald Hall for so long, probably as a misguided act of loyalty to my favourite poet, Donald’s late wife Jane Kenyon. Recently I was given his book A Blue Wing Tilts At The Edge Of The Sea and finally opened it up to find another view on Hall and Kenyon’s relationship through the poem ‘Long Days’.

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Ep 102. Chris Wallace-Crabbe on ‘Rondo’

In this conversation, Chris Wallace-Crabbe discusses his latest collection, Rondo, which brings together around a decade’s worth of new writing. He talks about how the collection tracks parts of his family history, the use of language that defines his work, his experiences as an Australian poet living in the US, and how poems come to him.

Ep 101. Letting go of poetry books

My dear friend Eleanor Smagarinsky is one of the most dillegent readers I know. In this episode, we talk through the books she’s considering letting go of, but none of these decisions are easy…

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Ep 100. Louise Carter interviews Alice Allan

Through making 100 episodes of Poetry Says I’ve had the chance to talk to almost 50 poets from Australia and elsewhere about how they work and the poets they love. Louise Carter was one of the first to take a chance on my new venture (and since came back for a repeat visit!).

In this episode she turns the tables on me and we talk about putting together our first collections, trying/failing to be Helen Garner, gradually becoming more visible, and our disproportionate reactions to office kitchens.

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