Monday, October 25, 2010

In the Beginning

A common workshop exercise is to offer a painting, photograph or sculpture and invite the participant to create a piece of writing around the image portrayed. This poem is based on a painting in the National Gallery of Victoria.

Occasionally a poem cannot exist in its own right. The last line of this poem seems obscure when the poem is read alone, but, as part of a sequence on the colonisation of Australia, the line begins to make sense. There is an element of ambiguity about the line and that is not unintentional. But, then again, the painting has a certain ambiguity about it as well, and also reflects just part of the sequential history of Australia.

 In the Beginning

From the painting “Family Group with Cottage and Horse Drawn Carriage” – T. W. McAlpine

In this Arcadia
We swim in the clear stream waters
As the soil bears fruit
And the sun, dappled, flows into the clearings.

As the axe falls
The silence is lofty, vaulted by branches.
The first echoes ever heard

This is the first fire,
The first warmth of the living being.
A light wind fans the grasping

© Martin Porter 2010

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pigeon Fanciers - some general notes

In many ways this poem is a nostalgic investigation of a culture that has been largely lost. The difficulty with pigeon fanciers was the avoidance of cliche and sentimentality.

Pigeon Fanciers is a piece of creative writing. I know no pigeon fanciers and have only cursory interest in the sport. The interest for me in the poem is the culture of a type of man I either imaging or remember from childhood and my time in the north of England, hard working, frequently tired, often highly skilled and frequently desperate for a rest on a Sunday afternoon with the newspaper and with a sporting culture often extending towards fanaticism. It has its origins in a mind map prepared for a different poem based on a study of garage mechanics, still not written but past the conception stage. As a result, this poem is not an end to itself, and in some ways is a first draft of a different poem.
Although this is not a frequent occurrence, poems are sometimes spawned as a result of planning or writing a different poem. Sometimes a poem becomes too cumbersome or internally inconsistent and needs to be split, but that is not the case here. This is not a fragment from a longer work or a poem developed from another either as an edited, expanded or polished version. It is a totally different poem written from the same material, in this case a mind map. One of the benefits of keeping hold of initial, old or redundant material, which I keep in a file known as the "asylum", is that it is available for reflection and a resource for mining at a later date.