Dipti Saravanamuttu

Working Note:

I donít know if I have a consistent poetics, although I am as likely to write a poem based on something Iíve read, as on something Iíve experienced. I often write poems as a response to reading theory. I sometimes incorporate the things people say in conversation, or the things that I say, into the larger framework of a poem in which that phrase may then catch up several other meanings as well. This may be one of the reasons why some of my deeply felt poems are to some degree also a joke at my own expense. I love strong images and resonant lines. I often re-write a poem for weeks until it has the right rhetorical feel or rhythm. Sometimes the subsidiary meanings of one line will only occur to me years later.







Dingo Trails

An existential vocation, after all, being a clown.
Sitting about in windy places, bits of red dust
and grit blow into the eyes.
All this shifting chronology, life, worlds,
past the howl of a wild dog, the need to find
a bit of earth and lie on it.† Breathe.
Occasionally depleted, brutal
staring at the garden with an ashy heart.

Write of love and youíll find it, of peace
and it is there. Perhaps we do exist as paradox,
all accidental meanings considered;
saying itís just your destiny to stop Charlie Chaplin
being chased out of the room.

But itís something like that Ė
the way what we see becomes us, gentle breadcrumbs
Scattered across the front footpath, even
brilliantly blue and red rosellas studded
like careless decoration in the skeletal parabola
of the winter pear tree, against a silver sky.




Itís early spring. Reading all of Proust
through winter nights, turning room and covered light
into an earthly kingdom resplendent with images
of that remembered world. Not sure if I was always so
or invent a life, spinning on Ė
not minding what the day was chasing
for itself, so far over the fence. By afternoon.
the rooms of sleep
become a solitude without names;
until the alarm-clock that apportions day from night
sounds synthetic bird-notes
into the clear blue light against a window.
China curls up on my chest as I sip tea, her oval eyes
are two green grapes
waiting for summer.



So quietly

I breakfast alone, as usual
On coffee and words,
The cat next door comes to visit

And this winter sunlight, pale
As waterís milk. Slanting light
Across my shaky coathanger shoulders
Perchance as pale as this morningís sky
Above my cottage / this much love
Holding me together despite its frailty

I sit here on my back step
A somewhat old woman,
Writing about love



To Forget Air

                After Luce Irigaray

What movement bears it,
That it should remind one
Of all that is

Precinct of mirrors and ice
Where my only guide is what I
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† † call out to youÖ
And I will suddenly speak with your words,
My lines breaking up into yours

That the breadth of the singer
Remains out of reach,
Is the meaning of our difference


Some of these poems have appeared previously in journals and other publications, including The Age (Aust) and New Music: Contemporary Poetry (forthcoming Aust 2001).


Bio: Dipti Saravanamuttu was born in Sri Lanka in 1960. She came to Australia with her family in 1972, and grew up in Sydney. Dipti completed her English Honours at Sydney University. She worked as a journalist with the Tribune newspaper and wrote two film scripts with the Migrant Womenís film group. During 1988-91 Dipti spent some time as a postgraduate and teacher at The University of London.

        She has two published collections of poetry, Statistic For The New World (Rochford Street Press 1988) and Language of the Icons (Angus & Robertson 1993). Her most recent book is a work of fiction, Dancing From The Edge of Darkness (Papyrus Publishing 2000). Diptiís poetry has appeared in various journals in Australia and elsewhere, and in the anthology Australian Verse: An Oxford Anthology (ed. John Leonard 1998). She is currently writing a thesis on spirituality and identity in Australian landscape poetry, and precariously supporting herself by publishing review articles and her poetry.

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