About Poety Matters

Poetry Matters is a home-grown print poetry journal that began in Spring 2006.

Censorship can take many forms. The inability to find a place of publication can be social censorship.

Poetry is freedom. Anyone can write poetry.

Nevertheless, it takes a lot of work to create the poetry that reaches the places only poetry knows.

Whoever you are, wherever you are,
Poetry Matters welcomes you as readers and writers.

Contact me about submissions and subscriptions: poetry.clh@gmail.com

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Doctor Poetry

Christopher Race, 2015, "Still Life With Grandmother" 
Pomonal Publishing, Stawell, Victoria.

Sometimes we see a book and we leave it on the shelf. Then we might see the same book again, pick it up, open it to a page, read, and put it back. But the words we read can follow us as we walk down the street. They stir our thoughts and our feelings and beseech us to return. 
That is how I came to sit one day with this book of poetry and read it through from cover to cover and feel restored at the end of it and in better spirits that I had been for a while. It was like sitting down to a delightful and nourishing dinner, which I had been in great need of, in fact, famished for.
In his poetry Christopher Race writes nakedly, adopting no obscuring devices and affectations. He doesn't try to be deep, he doesn't dig for meaning. He just tells it like it is, how he meets it.
          "It's as if no one understands anything.
           And what they do makes them despair
           perhaps I am a budding fool

           for something that will run me down" 
from "A Marked Man"

           "Am I anxious because I am never home?
           But someplace temporary from which I could be evicted 
                                                                             at any moment."
from "Never At Home"

          "Afternoon Shopping"
          "What is this?
           The faces staring out at me from the magazine covers.
           The avocadoes lying in the tray.
           What is this? An old man placing each step
           so carefully in the carpark, followed so
           carefully by a white car looking to park.
           And this? The grey sky, what is this?
           A grey sky low, and rain drops falling
           once or twice.
           Coming out of the supermarket
           I have my plastic bags. What is this?
           Any of this?" 

While the poems appear to be quite autobiographical and are full of details plucked from everyday life, we do not come to know anything much for sure about the man. This is a poet's work - to transform the personal into the universal; to write in a language that is understood by everyone and reaches to the depths of us all, beneath the superficial disguises we don for our various reasons.

          "Desperate to show themselves,
           the impossible selves
           they wish someone else to show them."
from "Who Will There Be"

This poet has understood that this cannot be achieved through abstractions or recording thoughts, but by placing our body within the scene and speaking as we would in normal life, if we could.  

Christopher Race through this ability he has as a poet finds the words for the unsayable, and in so doing, proffers the medicine of consolation. It's okay he says, none of us really knows what we are doing here, so why don't we give up pretending and just be kind to each other. 




Tuesday, 8 August 2017

"Wilderness has no words"

From March 1979

Sick of those who come with words, words but no language,
I make my way to the snow-covered island.

Wilderness has no words. The unwritten pages
Stretch out in all directions.

I come across this line of deer-slots in the snow: a language,
Language without words.

Tomas Transtr├Âmer 

translated by Robin Robertson 

The Deleted World, 2006, Enitharmon Press

What matters is silent. Or is heard, but no words have been used. 
The poet melts into a truth. Attempts to freeze it into words but can only do so by finding the language within, that was there before words. 
Patterns are created that mirror experience, so that the poem contains an image of something that the poet merged into for a moment.  

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Artists, Politicians and Aeschylus

In the 2006 film “V for Vendetta” one of the characters says: “Artists use lies to tell the truth, while politicians use them to cover the truth up.” It was the artist Pablo Picasso who said in 1923 that “We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realise truth, at least the truth that is given us to understand.  The artist must know how to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies.”
Truth cannot be spoken of directly, because it is an ideal beyond human comprehension. It is part of our human yearning. Those who say they have found the truth and then try to make everything over into its image are liars who become tyrants. An artist, on the other hand, creates an illusion that hints at truth. An artist does not compel people to follow. An artist awakens the yearning for truth in others.
Apparently the young Hitler aspired to be an artist. But he went on to become one who struck out truth and installed in its place a nationalistic fervour.  
Former politician, and above all, learned thinker, Barry Jones, in his memoir quotes Primo Levi’s experience in Auschwitz. When he broke off an icicle to relieve his thirst a guard knocked it out of his hand. "Why?" asked Levi. "Here is no why," the guard replied.
The title of Jones’ memoir , “A Thinking Reed”, is taken from Blaise Pascal’s “Pensees”:  "Man is but a reed, the feeblest in nature, but he is a thinking reed. Let us strive then to think well; that is the basic principle of morality."
Jones wanted to use Pascal in his maiden speech to the Victorian Parliament, but his friend Phillip Adams advised him not to. He said, “When you talk about Pascal, they think you mean lollies.” (Pascall is a brand of confectionery.)
Sadly too many of our politicians are not knowledgeable enough in the broad ways in which they need to be if they are to truly serve people.
When Robert Kennedy was on the presidential campaign trail in 1968 he arrived in Indianapolis just as he received the news that Martin Luther King, Jr had been shot dead. He was advised to cancel the campaign event. Instead he hurriedly prepared a speech in which he quoted a Greek playwright, poet and soldier who died in 456 BC. Fortunately no one was successful in advising him against this.
“My favorite poem, my -- my favorite poet was Aeschylus. And he once wrote:
Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair,
against our will,
comes wisdom
through the awful grace of God

His delivery varied slightly from Edith Hamilton’s translation but he had it there written in his heart  to placate a crowd in their time of anger and sorrow.  It mattered not at all that probably no one in the audience had ever heard of Aeschylus.
He ended his speech with the following:
And let's dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.”