There are a great many sorts of poetry that I enjoy and admire, so anything I say about the poetics of my own writing is not trying to be prescriptive for poetry in general. Using words makes me aware of at least a notional reader (even if it might be only oneself on another day) and so although I write for my own satisfaction, my poetics are reader-oriented - about pushing the way a reader will read the poem (which raises complex questions about what sort of reader one is expecting). I want the reader to experience something, not just receive ideas or information. A poem I write usually arises from sources of image or phrase rather than from a subject. Ideally each phrase or image is lucid; but its more important to get right the sensory and the affective, producing a coherent sequence of experience, than always to produce easy access to some one lucid idea or situation that the whole poem might be about. The way meaning is structured in poetry is so much affected by sequences of images, and by lines and the grouping of lines, that it often does not need a grammatical sentence. So although I write in a variety of ways, my work is directed to multi-layered use of language, even in poems that are conversational or apparently casual phrase by phrase.
The challenge is to make all the elements work together: the literally sensuous elements (rhythm, line-pacing by punctuation and lineation, what is heard, what happens in the mouth, what is seen on the page); the imaginary sensuous (overt imagery and implied or latent imagery); the voice of the speaker (who is at least partly, and sometimes entirely, fictional); and intertextual, cultural and unconscious elements. Thats the sort of analysis that happens when I come back and try to look objectively at a draft, and it aims at an ideal that may never be achieved. However, while Im actively writing Im not working on a theory, just trying to make this poem feel as right and as strong as possible.
angels tugging at the seams of your poems
His skull encloses
His surface speaks
Unwrapped from flesh
The temple smells:
Panicked, we all come at you.
Whose pool now?
Angel woman mermaid
My hands ache,
Bone.†††† Bell.†††† Lamp.
This shortest dayís moves are all prose and relative clauses
between shackled curtains hanging back from cold glass
whose slow dusking enters the unlit room too soon
sidling over eaves and garden, over a wind-
fingered pond all surface, and the hard wintering husks.
One galah squawks up the air and pinks the light
to a smarter metre, one fish snouts up as a simple verse
of gold and gone, a distant folk-dance strikes its beat.
The fallen husk splits, a chalice for Sun-return.
plotted loop seemed natural / weíd come and go like tides or the Perseid
Plot it again the loop we came by / to language one could
They struggle to welcome / milk and honey curdle our squirling skin
Tides slip out and the bays lie shallow / Our landfall
We burn in your air by our speed / the outcome of distance
What are my daughters to sing / between the blocks that rasp away your sky
canít touch you
Do you dream
We watch our feet drag
††††††††††† *Those who always look always
do not find††††††††††† Disappeared
In rumpled beds of earth
broken bone tethers the shredding flesh
Khaki picks his wolf-teeth
drapes his muscle casually at the gate
Where shall we place
Guilt stains through
The photos crack
The casual wolf
Now youíve harried me
into the high far corner of my field
pulled the wings off my shoulders
pulled the buttons from my flies
hooded my brains out through my nose
in search of a monkey morsel
may your motherís
may you find your child
Now youíve narrowed me
at Night and
Parting at Morning:
At the sunlit desk
morning thrusts its speculum
I wait to be delivered.
You name me and I accede
Your night is up and down
Your early train noses
One more train you pass begins to wake.
However many camels and giraffes
however long your evening sits
there are always camelopards somewhere
always some neonates that glitch to fossil
Over your tracks the ibis turns his head
Some of these poems have appeared previously in journals and other publications, including Southerly (Aust) and The Age (Aust)
Bio: Aileen Kelly was brought up in England and studied English Literature at Cambridge University (MA Cantab). She has spent most of her adult life in Melbourne, is married and has four Australian children and a handful of grandchildren. She is an adult educator (Dip Cont Ed UNE) who has worked in return-to-study and personal development, and in in-service education for adult education tutors, for teachers and for health professionals. She now concentrates on the fields of literature and creative writing. One of her interests is in religious poetry, and other poetry that relates to the inner life, and she has run courses on poetry within programs of theological study.
She has run writing workshops and given invited readings all over the suburbs of Melbourne and country Victoria, and in England and Ireland. She was one of the presenters at this year's Country Festival of Writing in Shepparton.
Her first book of poems, Coming up for Light (Pariah Press 1994), was short-listed for the FAW-Anne Elder Award and the Victorian Premier's Award, and won the Mary Gilmore Award from the Association for the Study of Australian Literature. Since then she has been a judge for the Victorian Premier's Award and for the FAW, and she sponsors a youth poetry award for the FAW.
She was the winner of the Vincent Buckley Poetry Prize for 1998 (Australian Centre, University of Melbourne) and the resulting two-month working trip to Ireland was also partly funded by a Victorian Arts Grant.
Her poetry has appeared in many significant Australian journals including
The Age, The Australian, The Canberra Times, Eureka
Street, LiNQ, Meanjin, Poetrix, Overland,
Poetry Monash, Quadrant, Southerly and Westerly,
and journals in the USA, UK and Ireland. Her work is represented in a
number of high school texts, and in anthologies including: Anthology
of Australian Religious Poetry ed. Les A. Murray (Collins Dove 1991),
Chapters into Verse ed. Atwan & Wieder (OUP USA 1993), Divine
Inspiration ed. Atwan et al (OUP USA 1998), Family Ties ed.
Jennifer Strauss (OUP Australia 1998), Australian Verse: an Oxford
Anthology ed. Leonard (OUP Australia 1998)