Live Poetry Reading – Anna Forsyth, Dan O’Connell (podcast)


thanks Libby
thanks for inviting me feels like home I come every Saturday so it’s nice to
see familiar faces two people who brought my books have put in requests so I’m
going to read those first from the book the first is Christine’s request and
this poem is called wick I really love The Secret Garden this is kind of
inspired by that if you could see my soul right at this moment it would
appear to be driftwood as long as the hull of a ship and as twined as a
Moreton Bay fig tree pearly smooth and clean as bone but come closer there is a
track like a furrowed groove a beautiful scar forming the path my tears made made
before you came gumbooted and tree-planting touch the
part darkened by shadow God is etching a long poem on the underside you’ll find
it steeped and song and prayer before you leave I want you to know it’s not
driftwood at all turn it over and you’ll see it it’s still wick and just to just
to accompany that I thought I might read a couple of little ones about Tarawhanui because I go tree planting and Tarawhanui which is up north of
Auckland and I go try to go every July I love it and so I wrote a couple of poems
about that At Tawharanui I follow the curvature of the flotsam trail
stopping occasionally to trace the Braille of a kina shell fragment why do
brittle curiosities interest me so much Finn’s scavenger hunt is under way but I
am content dusted by a fine powder of sand just to wander among nature’s
curios there exists a fragile kind of knowing
my poems are quite short so if you don’t feel like clapping in between you don’t
don’t have to but you can I mean I won’t stop you
and this one is also Tawharanui and it’s called incendiary regret
looking out across wetlands from the ridge across Tawharanui lush I was
planting but I am NOT planted here it is too easy when I flick a lighter on my
own roots to forget I was the one planted in the first place
planted to forget I was the one when I flick my lighter on my own it is too
easy but I’m not planted here I was planting across Tawharanui lush from
the ridge looking across the wetlands it’s such a beautiful place if you ever
get a chance to go there it’s a bird sanctuary it’s beautiful beach we plant
5000 native trees and it’s just amazing what’s the question tourists? tuatara? no
unfortunately not there that lots of beautiful native birds and Bush it’s
just yeah it’s beautiful alright so I’ll read a couple more from
this this one I mean I have a few of these at the back if anyone would like
one this one is called poet blooms you feel it keenly and it’s an Ekphrasis? Ekphrasis? anyone? anyone? George? Ekphrastic poem
based on artwork so it’s called it’s based on the woodcut called the flower
of pain but Edward Munch. I see you feel it keenly it could be empathy for a twig
snap or a child’s bleeding knee pricking you like a thorn like wick skin blooming
to crimson excess life is often birthed as the fruit of bursting pain you feel it
keenly it might be a sense of wonder at snowdrops and all their gaminiarie
unfolding like a dainty wound somewhere near the left side of your chest what a
privilege it is to feel so keenly it’s all summed up and the bloom of a child’s
cheeks, Maggie has had a request as well she
brought my book, which is nice of you and that one is called after the pantomime.
We will laugh at the transparency of our masks the pain of wearing them forgotten
as we dance open faced and naked I know we will marvel at the true audience of
our chaos you will quip about Shakespeare and I
will insist that I never acted a day in my life. So that’s that’s unfortunately I
don’t have the real books I’ve just got booklets today so it’s a little bit
cheaper but yeah I’ve got some tender moment between strangers and I’m sort of
working on trying to put a new one together so I’ll redo a couple of those
I don’t know how long I’ve got so just tell me I just sort of keep going in I was waiting for the heckle I was
waiting for that one usually it’s Komninos this one’s called emerging
poet it’s dedicated to Jen yeah Jennifer it’s called this is called
emerging poet. Who can determine the moment? Is it when she slips from the
shower and notices the pearl of soap positioned perfectly in the scalloped
dish his researched has returned no conclusions. At Tawharanui once
camping the soon-to-be poet wriggled her toes and her sleeping bag against the
cold words like crumbs itching to the observer it could be that the species of
poet to be will most likely emerge at dawn shedding blankets with gusto and
slowly drawing back the curtains to witness the wattle birds first poem or
was it the mo was at that moment in the heat when she peeled off your cardigan
to sit beer armed on the driveway in a haze of fever dreams I’ve seen her in
the bath each night with her loofah is that the beginning of it is the…is the
what should we call her at this stage sir sorry I can’t tell the difference
lately I note her movement has slowed the scratching has died down at 2:00
a.m. on Wednesday she was flat and almost lifeless does that mean what I
think it does in late March the scientists attended a conference on
metamorphosis but something was bugging him my subject still hasn’t emerged with
those paper wings she should have a set right now I should be handing them round
at readings a whisper the other day she swam for hours built sand castles I
don’t understand it. Shsh they’re here on the stage a line of poets with their tired
paper wings parading and stretching before them the unnamed woman cocooned
against the winter wind in a tartan coat turned and left the State Library a
pearl of soap in her pocket pressed between the pages of her secret wings of
paper after this one is called woman in the floral pajamas and it’s based it’s
based on some like conversation about an artwork so I’ve taken some of the text
and re-appropriated it it is a masterpiece of the postmodern era here
the artist depicts a standing figure as a dreamlike vision of fragile femininity
and marginalization he achieves this effect through the application of
several layers of wash and superimposed contours and soft shades of pink and
dare I say black unlike many other figures of the period the artist has
avoided idealized treatment of the facial features put in formal pose along
with the loose-fitting pajamas give the figure and air of couldn’t give a f**k but this
would be misleading as you will see in a moment the muted color scheme adds a
pensive tone but there’s something deeper here we may never know the true
identity of the subject but the artist fused the features of different people
into a portrait it’s remarkable it’s a remarkable and
striking composition masterful in its tenderness and arresting and its context
outside a suburban shopping mall the questions it raises in the mind of
the viewer but it is the eyes that continue to speak to us today let’s take
a moment to study the eyes it’s as if you can feel the resignation. The eyes have it. Thank You
mr. wiseguy I’m really interested in because I write fiction I’m quite
interested in the kind of the intersections of fiction and poetics so
Kerri’s not here so she’s been telling me that I’m too narrative but I don’t
care this one’s called Hungry Jack’s sated poet at Hungry Jack’s Thomas is reading
poetry about basilicas with his free hand he is devouring a large hash brown
cheeseburger combo he wants to find the most impenetrable poems and decipher
them using Google but he has distracted by the Chinese girl and her fur topped
boots beyond her through the window is a hive of students hump packed the
traffic drones the caramel sundae is cold the topping sparse he scrapes
endlessly at the plastic ignoring golden trails down his coat front a man with
fistfuls of fries obstructs his window Vista so he turns his attention to
matters at hand the last syrupy drops of coke on his tongue a liquid poem. This is
for the Kiwis Ode to the Pacific. How does something so magnificent go so unnoticed
this Pacific Ocean stretch sings its lilting Waiata to the Sun while I March
to an unending cacophony of the city’s brazen beats voices blaring sirens
competing for their solos no one stops to hear the ceaseless footfall of the
ever-faithful tied against the creak and thud of the nine-to-five stairway to
who knows where this mystery Pacific hums a majestic hymn to the wind barely
audible above the roar and surge of the oncoming traffic
how does something so magnificent wake and sleep without ode to its meekness it
shimmers against the greatest day when I can’t see past the sepia
drudgery of my mundane waking and it’s the humble backdrop to a stunning array
of characters who blaze across these pallid city sidewalks with hurried eyes
and caffeinated veins it is the rhythm and pulse of the seasons it gives this
claret sweet blood its tempo but no one stops to watch this perilous love-hate
tango of waves and a storm beyond the pixelated projections blaring curtains drawn but today I will nestle my feet and the wet sand and sing
you an ode. My beautiful Pacific. A smart lass. there’s a goddess in blue tartan a goddess in blue
savers Tatem outside the Mechanics Institute the name brings to mind men
and their machines back when sexism was still rife that’s a joke she’s reading a
real book God that tickles the inner workings God Sydney Road is full of
babes as that infantilizing because I’m dreaming of swaddling this one in my
arms to keep her warm in the freezer aisle at Aldi she’s not of my clan
Aberdeen ancestors watch with the bated breath
go get her Lassie I bet she’s not reading Robbie Burns God help me if
she’s reading engineering textbooks. By the half light of a Rollie
she’s reciting poetry while the death of boys on fixies hurtle past the Brunny
this honey with the flaxen locks doesn’t get a look in keeps that
porcelain under tight wraps doesn’t it grind your gears when you have to queue
at Town Hall kebabs no because I’m waiting for a non-existent bus to Westgarth just so I can get a look in if she asks me for a light I will say nothing
but I’ll set her on fire just the same two brains inflamed with enough smarts to
ignite every street lamp from here to darkest Coburg, [Clapping] [Laughter] This one’s called consoling a suicidal
comedian it’s based on a true story his trembling hands are a giveaway he grips
the mic his life depends on coins tossed with nonchalance there are
no notes for this rough sea of disapproving faces I dab his forehead
with a flannel during his night sweats he imagines feedback screaming when nerves
get the better of him he resorts to humor wraps the curtain around himself
like Laurence bloody Arabia silence is his biggest fear evidence of another bomb
dead air is the worst humorless nightmare raises the heckles that was
before he joined the company turns out he loves misery easier to engender
sympathy funny that. [clapping] [laughter] like my poems are really short so just like boom boom boom
Have I got more time? One more? one or two more? Ok this one’s called why teenage girls
giggle. It’s not as if they are invisible not like the blank woman three seats
back on this packed tram. No one is dying though and there is the least need for a
banshee’s shriek or witch’s cackle speaking of which I feel my blood
pressure rise as if by magic in unkind of times it would be cries hysteria
hysteria back when they thought woman’s semen could turn venomous if held
within there’s enough evidence of this venom here amongst the hissing tangle of
bodies and the stairwell but they are shapeshifters as we cross the bridge
over the river their long hear flowing intermingling seething before my tired
eyes how quickly I’ve forgotten my teenage body when the two waters met in
cruel confluence the nearly adult and the child still alive enough to bubble
and churn. you are listening to 3cr spoken word and
a live recording of Anna Forsyth as I previously mentioned Anna performs music
as well as poetry under the name Grace pageant so let’s have a listen to the
title track of her EP little bonfire [guitar plucking music] [Singing] There’s a winter chill in the air tonight I’ll wait for you by the fire got a little flame that’s blue and bright and warm hands and warm heart little prayer I’m sending out again I’ll warm my hands til you come blazing I’m so tired but you know that i’m here for you so here’s this little bonfire that I built for you, this little bonfire. [trumpet solo] so I close my eyes and think of you and how we were when we were new and there’s nothing left for me to prove I” wait for you I’ll wait for you. This little prayer I’m sending out again. I’ll warm my hands til you come blazing. I’m so tired but you know that I’m here for you. So here’s this little bonfire that I built this little bonfire Between us we’ll have enough fire for everyone to admire and warm their hands and warm their hands. This little prayer I’m sending out again I’ll warm my hands til you come blazing. I’m so tired but you know that I’m here for you It’s been a long winter but I’m thawing out. it’s been a long winter but you thaw me out. there was a girl with no bones she never
picked a fight it just didn’t seem right to her a lot of her softness the people round her told her grow a spine she said I’m fine you know it’s never that simple oh oh oh bones are over-rated, anger’s complicated. Oh oh oh. Take me as I am I’m a boneless girl that was girl with no bones off the
little bonfire EP and now for the second set of Anna Forsyth we have a special guest joining me for
this poem please welcome David Attenborough to join me for this one. AKA Shane this poem is called David Alex is in love with David. For Alex Tuesday night became a long winding
tunnel the podcast Attenborough in Paradise had her thinking the sour smell
of sweat now I’m leaving the dark world of the forest Alex was still in the dark
forest she was on a train that was travelling through one in slow motion
she had time to capture still frames in her mind what first drew me to the bear
in particular really caught my interest I met her when she was just a cub 13
years ago it’s great to see her after all this time but does she remember me I
certainly remember her and so on Alex was tossing and turning in between yawns
she stretched her body out as long as she could under the feather doona
David’s voice a ravishingly handsome insect with long elegant legs and a
glossy black and scarlet body the sound of rain sleep evaded her by
morning Alex was exhausted exhausted David is from another planet does he
even sleep to the hug orangutangs in his dreams in Borneo or Indonesia the room
is a stage set just a nondescript chair and a table a poster of an orangutan on
the wal, Save the Orangutans so alex is enjoying her Marmite jaffle when she hears David’s key in
the door badly written script David addresses the audience and in all
my years of exploration these are the creatures I find most curious and off
she goes so sweetly gently but flamboyantly launching the oversized
walnut down the frozen river Alex enters stage right pontificating
that’s the word for it I’m a city girl he should know that I would tree plant
in gumboots to impress him but he’d be off…the river gently frisking in the
foreground watching watch as the alpha female displays her dominance over the
herd by tapping the end of the frisking broom to check for rogue insects sigh
Alex drifts in and out on the tide of sleep I’ve collected electric catfish
they grow very big indeed and if you were silly enough to put both hands on
one you’d be thrown flat on your back ants arrive enjoy the feeding frenzy
marrow fat doesn’t sound tremendously appetizing but it is hugely nutritious
interviewer when you when you see this sort of stuff do you get a sense of
God’s pattern when you go into your own backyard are you thinking oh there’s
something it took me three days to get to Sierra Leone which is that bulge on
the left-hand side of Africa dinner conversation sigh sigh mistaking the
guests for seasoned travelers people who care there’s a sweet drink in South
America which is made by old ladies chewing cassava and spitting it into a
large pot and letting it ferment for three or four days after which it tastes
exactly like something not sweet but not sour smells exactly like vomit. Oh for f**ks sake
David! Alex wakes in a cold sweat yeah and this is actually kind of a
fiction piece that’s called Billow and it’s about Hurricane Katrina in New
Orleans. Billow. Tabitha waits blindly for the Holy
Spirit from her back porch sheets billowing their warning everything is
on the line damp patches spreading she notices the
slightest well of purple and green fabric clucks her tongue in recognition
of the baby the king cake inside I move her hand so she can see through her
fingers a low moan amongst the trees he’s here
Nana he’s here but it is a girl’s name that she will call out while they
screamed the men were fishing down at the lake
Josiah always dutiful lagged behind he was trying not to look but he would
always remember the dark slug of guts in the bucket and the way they spilt
Ash Wednesday the men were still fat from Tuesday still full of a different
spirit I am the dutiful one now it is my turn to cluck my tongue I let the baby
wail for each of us another bucket another low moan another wind that
chills the guts but it warms me to think of Tabitha a sail billowing in the
distance a heart swelling proudly towards the music of the horns towards
the holy spirit 3cr spoken word is on every Thursday
morning from 9 o’clock till 9:30 855 on the a.m. dial and web streamed on www.3cr.org.au we also do podcasts so until next time this is George O’Hara for 3cr
spoken word

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