Monday, June 2, 2014

Poetry Monday: Andy Kissane

I really wasn't intending on reading Andy Kissane's Radiance for a while.  I'm in the middle of a few other books (including quite a challenging poetry book that is absorbing my attention), but since Kissane queried me himself, and since the book was published by Puncher & Wattmann, a local house that I respect greatly, I thought I'd just give it a quick leaf through (something I often do with new books - almost a reflex action). Before I knew it I was hooked and pushed everything else aside. There are a few reasons for that.  The first is that the poetry is actually very easy to read and drew me in immediately.  I'm not saying that poetry necessarily should be easy - I'm  not afraid of a literary challenge, but it's been a particularly hard couple of weeks, I'm a little tired, and I found the ease in Radiance appealing, especially since the accessibility didn't diminish the depth or power of this work in any way.  Another reason is the humour.  This work is wry.  I was really smiling, especially since the humour didn't diminish the pathos.  Finally (not really finally, because there are lots more things to say...), the work was meta-poetic, self-referential, and modern without losing its link with a strong poetic tradition.  I particularly like the work in Section II (what I've taken to calling "Oatmeal" because of its epitaph), some of which collectively shortlisted for the 2011 Newcastle Poetry Prize.

So far I've been unable to resist reading out loud (to the poor folk who have to live with me) "The Lost Ode of John Keats", "The Catch", and "Three Visions of Virginia Woolf."  If you happen to be in my vicinity, "Political Fruit" is most likely going to come spouting out next.  Fair warning.  Here's a tiny taste from "Rhubarb", which won Kissane the 2012 Coriole National Wine Poetry Prize.  More soon. 

Stewed with apples you give life to cereal,
you populate pies, you fold through whipped
cream with the swirling intelligence of a fool.

Is that why when we've nothing to say,
when we need to fill the air with dramatic chatter,
we utter your name: rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb?

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