From the Archives: What a Bird

This is one of my all-time favourite poems, mostly because it’s just so daft. I probably wrote it in the late 1990s – it has a real ‘I don’t give a fuck’ feel about it.

well you've got birds & then you've got birds
haven't you? take your wedge-tailed eagle 
for example - what a bird you've got there!
whereas your common blue budgie - well he's

not so much a bird as a parrot is he compared
with your ibis your swan your albatross i mean
your budgie just doesn't cut the mustard does he
that's why you've got to keep him in a cage coz 

he wouldn't last five minutes in the wild what 
with all your other birds doing the rounds i mean 
your currawong your rosella your seagull your
bilby yes mate even your marsupial's more 

bird than your budgie another prime e.g. being
your koala - now he'd instill fear in your bravest
budgie - what a bloody mismatch eh? what a bird
is your koala - a bird's bird if ever i saw one

what a beautiful bloody bird! what a bird!

Poem of the week newsletter: ten poems in!

Back in October 2011, I made the not-necessarily-epic decision to stop posting poems on this site, and to start up a poem of the week newsletter instead. So far it’s been a wild ride.

The good news is that the newsletter now has a grand total of forty-six subscribers! In addition, apart from a slight lapse over Christmas, I’ve managed to stick to my weekly schedule, with the result that I’ve now written ten brand-new poems!

On reflection, while it’s sometimes been a challenge to wake up every Monday morning and pen a fresh poem, the exercise has so far been really great for my spontaneity. It’s also been really heartening to get the occasional email from a subscriber in response to a particular poem. Here are the titles of the first ten:

(On the Tomb of) Noah Ray
the feeling after fear
i remember 제주도
done tagging!
How the cold, dead moon stayed magnetic
Här kommer allihop!
collapse menu
mark all as read
meaningful adjacency request

If that list sounds even vaguely intriguing or tempting, do yourself a favour and subscribe.

New poems in Jacket!

The last time a poem of mine appeared in Jacket was way back in 1999, when Cars (for Bruce Beaver) was published in issue 8. While it makes me feel old to say that I’ve waited eleven years to see another of my poems in Jacket, the wait has been more than worth it!

Pam Brown has guest-edited a little feature for Jacket #39 on Rewriting Canonical Australian Poems which, as the name suggests, consists of works that re-write ‘canonical’ or well-known Australian poems. In the feature you’ll find works by David Brooks, Justin Clemens, Michael Farrell, Duncan Hose, John Tranter and moi.

I’m really chuffed that three of my poems have been selected for the feature, all of which are re-writes of poems by Australian ‘proto-nationalist’ and poet, Bernard O’Dowd. In case you didn’t know, I’m a bit of an O’Dowd tragic, meaning that I’ve written quite a few poems about his life, most of them inspired by his correspondence with Walt Whitman.

And so, without further ado, here’s the link to Red Dawn Ward, Oz and “The Campfires of the Lost”, three re-writes based on O’Dowd’s ‘Dawnward’, ‘Australia’ and ‘The Campfires of the Lost’, respectively. For those who are interested, you can now read the full text of O’Dowd’s Dawnward?, the collection in which these poems were first published in 1903, online.