I once was a pretender poet

To help celebrate the launch of her new verse novel Toppling, I have been blogging over at Sally Murphy’s Writing For Children blog on What Sandy Fussell Likes About Children’s Poetry.

At first I was hesitant – after all, what do I know about poetry. I’m not a poet although I do love to read poetry and verse novels are high on my list.

I love the way words rise and fall in waves. I love the way they roll off my tongue and drop at my feet with a crash or a gentle plink. I love the sound they make. I can recite chunks of Slessor, Frost and Eliot, simply for the sound effects. Dylan Thomas doesn’t make a lot of sense to me but his lines are music to my ears.

When I was 12 I asked for The Complete Works of Shakespeare for my birthday. Not because I was anywhere near clever enough to understand what I was reading but I had plugged in to Shakespeare’s talent with language. He could make the words sing.

And now I have a confession to make. I’m not a poet. But I once was, although not a very good one. I had a poem published in The Canberra Times when I was 20. I scrabbled around and found it today. It’s not as awful as I remember and it doesn’t sing in tune – but it’s still got a little hum going in my head.

The Painter
The mind crumples as twisted and tortured
as the writhing pieces of flesh
lying bloodless on the red canvas.
The eyes blink as deserted and wasted
as the lifeless backwash of sky
lying limp on the pain-sodden frame.
The brushes whip a convulsion of colour
the easel becomes the rack
and agony screams stretched over wood.
The painter stumbles as lost and driven
as the picture hanging impaled.
The colour, the mind, the pain and the canvas.
I know nothing about art
all I see is a man at work.

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One response to “I once was a pretender poet”

  1. Dee White says:

    Thanks Sally and Sandy, I’m always so interested to hear how others are inspired by poetry – and interpretation is such an individual thing. Loved your poem too, Sandy.


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