Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Two short poems by Vincent O'Sullivan


A man I talked with in a bar in Berlin
once read poetry, he said, with passion, served
with distinction in an army he loathed. Beyond
which he said little. He drank Schnapps. He advised,
as we parted, to avoid epiphanies as I would gunfire.
His phrase for ordering a Schnapps was 'to dim the lights'.

The sentiment of goodly things

The birds are back at the feeder
now the air is warmer.
                                  They come and go
in a way reminding me of keys in old
typewriters, flitting up and there for a second,
gone as another arrives.
                                    I don't quite
catch at what it is they're typing,
something, one fancies, about enjoying
the fact of again and again.
                                           I hope that's
what they're writing. It must be,
the way the keys keep coming back.

© Vincent O'Sullivan
Being Here: Selected Poems, Victoria University Press, 2015

Reproduced on The Tuesday Poem with permission.

Editor: Jennifer Compton

I was lucky enough to be in Wellington for the launch of this gorgeously attired, and stuffed-with-natural-goodness, book. It was a jolly fine night, fueled with excellent local wines and provender, and then me and my mate Coral, (Aussie mate from WA, second day ever in NZ) walked back along Lambton Quay and came upon the statue representing Katherine Mansfield, that Vince had had a hand in selecting (I found out later at a luncheon in Dunedin), and I took her hand and Coral took a blurry pic. Just one of those nights, you know. Well, when it came to the reading of the book, it had that same kind of well-fueled, insouciant, stroll-the-midnight-streets, head-spinning, I-think-I-finally-see-the-point-of-it-all, effect. And here comes a lucky convergence! Poetry can do that, and I think it should.
Vincent O’Sullivan is one of New Zealand’s leading writers, author of the biography of John Mulgan, Long Journey to the Border, the novels Let the River Stand and Believers to the Bright Coast, and many plays and collections of short stories and poems. He is joint editor of the five-volume Letters of Katherine Mansfield and has edited a number of major anthologies. He lives in Dunedin, and is the out-going NZ Poet Laureate.

To find out more, you may like to click here

Today's editor, Jennifer Compton, lives in Melbourne. Her poem, 'Now You Shall Know', won the Newcastle Poetry Prize in 2013, and the collection of the same name was published this year in Australia, while her long poem Mr Clean and The Junkie  was published in New Zealand as part of the Hoopla series 2015 (Mākaro Press). 

In addition to today's feature be sure to check out the wonderful poems featured by other Tuesday Poets, using our blog roll to the left of this posting.


Kathleen Jones said...

I'm already a big fan of Vincent's poetry. I haven't seen his latest collection yet, but will be getting hold of it as soon as I can. Thanks for this selection, Jennifer, which is wry and understated - a bit like the man himself.

Helen Lowe said...

I love the analogy of the birds to the typewriter keys and the observant warmth of the poem as well.

Mary Mac said...

A terrific post. The poems, the poet, the post, the poster, all fill me up in the way you felt filled up, Jen. This is a hymn to poetry and to writing in general – holding the hand of KM indeed! – where it goes, the joys it brings, again and again. Thank you to you and to Vincent, our outgoing poet laureate and a marvellous man.

Helen McKinlay said...

To use Vincent's words I agree with all the above 'again and again'
Such a pleasurable post! Thank you Jen and Vincent.

Penelope said...

I wonder how long it will be before the typewriter imagery needs to be explained by footnotes. Or embedded links.

Nice selection.

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