Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Like a Butterfly by Jennifer Compton



The half a walnut
in the bowl of mixed nuts
is exactly — Like a butterfly.

A moth flies in the open door
alights and palpates
to the right of the screen.

The wings beat — yes yes yes.
That is what you said.
Like a butterfly. Like.

So
now you are privy to
a thousand thousand things.

You have found the door
into the intricate labyrinth
where the olds live.

Welcome. Oh welcome.
To where everything is
like something else.

Not that we didn't want you
to find us out
but ...

no pressure, just be
for a little longer
innocent.

This is one of the poems from Jennifer Compton's new collection,  Now You Shall Know  published by Five Islands Press. The book will be launched at Melbourne's Collected Work's Bookshop by Geoffrey Lehmann Thursday 5th February at 6.00 pm. 

Jennifer is, of course, a Tuesday Poem poet who has introduced readers to many exciting contemporary voices in poetry, particularly in Australian poetry, on her blog, Stillcraic. I first came across Jennifer's work in 1994 or 1995 when I read it in Cordite - which was then published as a hard copy broadsheet. It was the day after a three day Australian Poetry Festival held at Stonnington and I was on a bus going to Leongatha. I should have been poetry-ed out, but I opened Cordite and there was her direct, passionate but laconic voice. I was bowled over. 

What I like about this poem from her latest book is how a  moment is  observed, chronicled and understood in such a writerly way. It's a reminder to pay attention. This week, you can read another of Jennifer's poems, 'Lost Property' on my blog.

Jennifer Compton is a poet, short fiction writer and an award-winning playwright. Recent works include, Parker & Quink,  Ginninderra Press in 2004, Barefoot, Picaro Press, 2010 and This City, Otago University Press in July 2011. Barefoot was shortlisted for the John Bray Poetry Award at the Adelaide Festival and This City and won the Kathleen Grattan Award in New Zealand. Check out Stillcraic for her weekly poem post.



Catherine Bateson is a poet and novelist for children and young adults and she is also a partner in a publishing and editing services business, Tyle&Bateson Publishing. She is Melbourne-based.




10 comments:

Allana Alberto said...

hi. i like your poetry <3

Harvey Molloy said...

I can't help think of how 'psyche' is the Greek word for butterfly and how the whole fall from innocence into the endless chain of metaphor, simile, image, language is a love story. I know I'm reading too much into the poem but poetry is just the moment when you look at half a walnut and see something fluttering which isn't quite there but not entirely absent either. I feel a great pleasure in this fluttering.

Michelle Elvy said...

Really like the feel of this small gem. Thank you for sharing -- and congrats on the new book, Jennifer.

I also love what Harvey wrote.

Cattyrox said...

I felt a great deal of pleasure in reading your comment, Harvey! How I love that individual poems take us on
these other journeys.

Penelope said...

'Passionate but laconic' is a good description of Jennifer's work. So few words, but it opens up so much.

I was thinking of what Hamlet says about walnuts and infinite space.

Top pick!

Ben Hur said...

Isn't it funny? I've often thought the half-walnut is shaped like a butterfly. And now you've written a great poem springing from that very thing, Jennifer.

Jennifer Burnside said...

I appreciate the illusion and fluidity of your butterfly and how we are welcoming yet delaying the loss of innocence here. Moving, secretive, flighty, shape-shifting, temporary, and thus real. Thank you for sharing!

Jennifer Burnside said...

I appreciate the illusion and fluidity of your butterfly and how we are welcoming yet delaying the loss of innocence here. Moving, secretive, flighty, shape-shifting, temporary, and thus real. Thank you for sharing!

Helen McKinlay said...

Loved this poem Catty and Jennifer.
Also congratulations Jen on your new book.

Jennifer Compton said...

it is a love story harvey