Friday, October 23, 2009

Writers’ Festival

by George Anderson

I beg you to come with me to the readings
at the Wharf. Some big guns of the
Oz poetry scene are to be there:
Beveridge Kalafa Ballou Jones
You bet me I can’t stay awake.
As we listen to the crinkling new manuscripts
on the grey sobering day I hear you yawn
beside me.
And again.

The readers are tentative.
Serious. Almost apologetic.
Reading their listless verse.
Acknowledging the polite clapping of the audience.
A couple of lesbians take digital photos.
I listen intensely but no images strike home as memorable.
One poem uses a large block of wood as an extended metaphor
related to the creative process & one collection is set entirely in a Buddhist commune in Tibet.

At the end, a greying bespeculed publisher of ongoing
government grants mumbles a few words of tribute and
says, ‘I guess that’s all the time we have’ and the people
quietly file out.
I would love to punch him in the fucken face to gauge his reaction.

I shake you awake.

It’s true what you say about the marginalisation of poetry in this country.
At the top it’s a closed shop reeking of passionless, humorless academic verse.

But I stay awake. You owe me one.

We listen to Coltrane’s ‘Crescent’ in the car
& as you take me in your mouth
his wordless, defiant search for meaning becomes widely apparent
growing ever so bold and swollen-

soon splintering

into the moonless drive of the take-away.

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