Monday, April 20, 2015

Poetry Monday: Judith Beveridge

I’ve just finished reading Devadatta’s Poems by Judith Beveridge.  The book reads like a verse novel, following a period of time in the life of of Devadatta, cousin of Siddhattha Gotama (the Buddha).  Devadatta was initially a devotee of his cousin, and joined his order of monks, but later began to hate him, even going so far as to attempt to kill him several times.  The book reads quickly and because it’s in Devadatta’s voice, it creates an alternative history in which a fictionalised Devadatta is revealed with all sorts of desires and longings.  The result is a compelling and very sensual reading that is rich with the sights, smells, sounds and  sensations of India around 500 BCE.  You can read three full poems from Devadatta’s Poems here:  Here’s a tiny except from “New Day”, which really picks up the character of Beveridge’s Devadatta:
I will walk into town with my alms bowl. The wind
seems to chant: food, fodder fibre, flowers, fuel.As I walk, there’s the tang of caraway, the grassy
scent of sorrel, the subtle sweetness of thyme. 
Beveridge, who has published eight books of poetry (6 full and 2 chapbooks), is a judge in this year’s Newcastle Poetry Prize, and will be in conversation with Les Murray at the Sydney Writer’s Festival. She has won most major poetry prizes for her work, including the Christopher Brennan Award for lifetime achievement in poetry. She’s also the poetry editor of Meanjin - a very significant literary magazine that will be celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.  I’ll be writing a full review of Devadatta’s Poems shortly, but in the meantime, you can read more samples of Beveridge’s  exquisite poetry here:

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