John Tranter edited Best Australian Poems 2012 for Christmas this year and I've been delving in, with much pleasure. Anthologies are fun for a number of reasons. In the case of this one, I knew many of the poets and was already a fan of their work, but there were also new names to discover, and new poems from those I already enjoyed. Tranter is, as one would expect, an excellent editor, choosing a diversity of work - some light and funny, others intense and powerful. One thing he comments on in the introduction, and which is borne out in the poetry, is the inherent stories that the poems contain. Although the poetry chosen generally isn't prosaic, and sometimes edges the experimental, the musical, the visual even, there are many tiny moments in these works that present a little tale. I haven't read every poem in the collection yet, but some of the poems that stood out for me were Felicity Plunkett's "Confetti by Dada" which I recognised as hers immediately (I was enjoying playing "guess the poet" as I read through these pieces) and which you can read in its entirety here: http://redroomcompany.org/poem/felicity-plunkett/confetti-dada/. The poem was written after Tristan Tsara’s ‘dada manifesto on feeble love and bitter love’, a typically strange Tsara offering that is more interesting than it is moving. Plunkett's poem however, is utterly beautiful:
Place yourself gently
in a bag and shake:
your portrait emerges
rare, ordinary, interchangeable:
lips, adore, golden, dark, I.
Another poem that I instantly took to was Luke Davies' "At That Moment" which doesn't appear anywhere online that I could find, but which, in the context of my own recent visit to Disneyworld, really captured the mingling of crowd consumerism and utter loneliness that one feels at these places (even with children):
"I was like the Bower Bird on the Branch of Being.
Swaying, surveying. There being no back
to go back to,
it felt like the essence
of my loneliness, or the world's."
There were many other wonderful poems in this collection, including Jennifer Maiden's "George Jeffreys: 11: George Jeffreys Woke Up in Langley" which is from her Liquid Nitrogen collection that I reviewed here (and also featured on this blog last poetry Monday - you can hear my interview with Maiden at The Compulsive Reader Talks).
There were many other poems in the collection that I really enjoyed, and others that I suspect I will begin to enjoy on second, third or fourth readings, perhaps discovering some new poets and poetics that I can explore in more detail by following up on them. That's the joy of this kind of anthology - dipping in repeatedly for a poetic break in the midst of a busy day (don't tell anyone but I kind of like slipping into my room when the house is full of guests and spending 5 minutes lost in that intimate place that poetry can take you - it's like a delicious secret).
As this is my last Poetry Monday (or indeed blog post - it's the 31st here after all) for 2012, I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy new year. May 2013 be your best year ever. Thanks for your fantastic company through 2012.