Sunday, May 10, 2015

Poetry Monday: Beth Spencer’s Vagabondage

A few weeks ago, I purchased a copy of Beth Spencer’s Vagabondage: a verse memoir. I had heard her read a poem from the book at the Newcastle Writer’s Festival this year, and was moved and enchanted at the same time, so I felt a copy of the whole book was in order.  I’ve just started reading it and am finding myself joyfully lost in Spencer’s journey: a poetic travelogue, complete with images, of Spencer’s year on the road.  Thematically, who isn’t just a little tempted to throw aside the shackles of place, mortgage, rates, servitude, and take to the road?  It’s a kind of Aussie dream as pervasive as the dream of home-ownership, rich with the idea of exploration, freedom, and adventure (“because there’s the whole of Australia out there!/and I’m not seeing it").  Sustainable?  Probably not.  Nirvana?  Not always, but Spencer teases out all the nuances of her trip, using poetic language that is deceptively smooth and flowing.  The book reads very quickly and easily, but there are subtleties and deep truths in its white space and Haiku-like brevity:

To be enjoyed,
but not     essential

no important cog in
anyone’s machine

is liberating,
if you can handle the vertigo. (“On Being / Inessential”)

I’m looking forward to finishing the book tonight, and will, of course, do a full review, but for Poetry Monday, my most practical, pragmatic day of the week, I’m sure a few minutes out of the loop, under the radar, with Beth’s song “to the loose, the wandering/and the unattached” won’t hurt anyone.

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