For me, lists, whether they be a top 10, 100 or 500, can be catalysts for discussing what a culture still feels is important, relevant and uplifting. Many of us spend pleasant hours finding new books, tunes and in this case poems but the real pleasure is spending time with old favs – and sharing them.
I voted for ‘Out of Time’ by Kenneth Slessor for the simple reason that it was the first poem that truly captured my imagination (as a teenager). I had enjoyed ‘Faces in the Street’ and ‘Clancy of the Overflow’ in primary school but Slessor was deliciously mysterious. My fav. line:
‘Fixed in a sweet meniscus, out of Time,‘
could almost be a description of poetry itself, if that makes sense?
Other poets that populate my imagination and could easily have any number of their poems in a personal ‘top ten’ include Michael Dransfield, Gig Ryan, Geoff Page and Les Murray, whom my Mum went to school with, in Taree.
I have a vivid memory of the power of Murray’s poetry. As my grandmother lay dying, I read her his Buladelah-Taree Holiday Song Cycle to which she responded with the occasional moan and sigh at particular lines. It felt like she was listening to every word and image. I suspect what was happening was more about what I needed, then she did.
Poetry is intensely personal and while writing this post, I made a trip to the garage where a bookshelp of poetry patiently awaits my visit. It has been most pleasant, if dusty hour or two reading. A few Australian poetic favs just revisited, in no particular order:
Five Bells - Kenneth Slessor
In the Purple Bar – Gig Ryan
Grand Remonstrance – Geoff Page
Christ at Gallipoli (scroll down) - Geoff Page
An absolutely ordinary rainbow – Les Murray
Pas de deux for lovers – Michael Dransfield
Going away – Michael Dransfield
Platform 16, Central Station – Michael Dransfield
‘Five Bells’ has topped previous Australian poetry polls. Does anyone have a link to Lucy Bell’s reading of this Slessor masterpiece?
An aside: wonder if Ern Malley still warrants a mention?
Slider credit: surrealmuse