Recommended: ‘Poetry Says’ podcasts

By and large, our experience of poetry is an active affair. Reading a poem well generally demands diligence and attention, which partially explains poetry’s neglect when compared to other artforms that are often experienced somewhat passively – from film to the visual arts, to music, to audiobooks, and even the novel, which generally relies less on an actively constructed meaning.

Of course, recordings of poems abound, and a recording of a poem can be experienced just as passively as an audiobook or piece of music. But there’s something to be said for Philip Larkin’s argument that ‘[h]earing a poem, as opposed to reading it on the page, means you miss so much – the shape, the punctuation, the italics, even knowing how far you are from the end.’

As someone who prefers to experience poems from the page, it’s a delight to have access to Alice Allan’s regular Poetry Says podcasts, a series of lively and engaging conversations about poetry. The podcasts are perfect for those moments in which reading poems from a book is impractical.

Over 100 episodes of Poetry Says are available, including episodes on Gertrude Stein, Adrienne Rich, Elizabeth Bishop, Sylvia Plath, Jack Gilbert, Ted Berrigan, Judith Wright, Jorie Graham, and contemporary Australian poets, such as Michael Farrell and Jill Jones. The episode on Plath’s bee poems is highly recommended. Invariably, an episode sends me back to a poet and their work with fresh insight and new regard.

Poetry Says website : Poetry Says on Twitter : Poetry Says on Facebook

Sydney-Adelaide roadtrip

I flew to Sydney for the launch of CARTE BLANCHE on Saturday, 20 July. After the launch at Mothership Studios, Marrickville, I had the chance to drive back from Sydney to Adelaide: a two-day, 1,375 kilometre (855 mile) journey by car, through the Great Dividing Range, and across the plains of New South Wales’ Riverina region and the Mallee districts of Victoria and South Australia.

Thom Sullivan Sydney to Adelaide

Much of the journey I knew only from imprecise childhood memories (the Dog on the Tuckerbox, 5 or 9 miles from Gundagai – depending on whether you reference the poem ‘Bullocky Bill’, the later Jack Moses poem, or the Jack O’Hagan song), or through particular contemporary poems. I think of Geoff Page’s poem ‘Hay to Balranald’: ‘Heading west all afternoon the curvatures can still surprise you. / You might as well be out at sea; the skyline is a perfect circle. […] All afternoon forgetting physics / you drive into the sky.’

Or there’s Mike Ladd’s poem ‘Out of Balranald, just on dusk’: ‘Now the last light catches old fridges on their plain of resurrection – / a voice says ‘I AM’ from a burning roly-poly bush […] Kenworths and Macks in their prides / roaring down the gears through the drowse of distant towns.’ It’s an experience of a distinctively Australian Sublime – horizontal and understated, rather than vertical and imposing – as alluded to in On the Hay Plain, a radio episode about the ‘big sky country’ surrounding Hay, written and produced by Ladd.

I took photos regularly during the portions of the trip when I wasn’t driving. None has any artistic intent: they were captured only as aide-mémoires. They document something of the journey and the incremental changes in the landscape: green hills, grasslands, riverine plains, dry creeks, brown rivers, river red gums, woodlands of black box and grey box, dry lake beds, sheep, cattle, roadkill kangaroos, saltbush, grain crops, a crop fire, silos, siding towns, salt flats, mallee roadsides, and semi-trailers – and kilometre after kilometre of white-lined bitumen, varying in colour from dark grey to soft grey to ochre.

Of course, ‘experiencing’ a landscape while driving through it at 110 kilometres per hour is little better than watching it on TV. In both cases we sit in a comfortable chair, watching images flash past on a (wind)screen. Nonetheless.

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Mascot, Sydney, NSW.

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Hume Highway, Oakdale, NSW.

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Federal Highway, Lake George, NSW.

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The Nation’s Capital, ACT.

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Barton Highway, Jeir, NSW.

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Hume Highway, Coolac, NSW.

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Hume Highway, Tumblong, NSW.

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Hume Highway, Mount Adrah, NSW.

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Morning fog, Murrumbidgee River, Wagga Wagga, NSW.

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Sturt Highway, Sandigo, NSW.

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Sturt Highway, Sandigo, NSW.

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Crop fire, Sturt Highway, Maude, NSW.

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Sturt Highway, Keri Keri, NSW.

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Sturt Highway, Yanga, NSW.

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Sturt Highway, Yanga, NSW.

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Balranald Tooleybuc Road, Balranald, NSW.

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Bridge over the Murray River, Tooleybuc, NSW/VIC.

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Mallee Highway, Manangatang, VIC.

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Mallee Highway, Ouyen, VIC.

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Mallee Highway, Parrakie, SA.

Poetry reading: Halifax Café

Halifax Cafe poetry reading - Kami and Thom Sullivan

This Thursday, 25 July 2019, I’ll be featuring at a poetry reading at Halifax Café, 187 Halifax Street, Adelaide, from 6:00pm, with renowned Adelaide performance poet Kami. The event is hosted by Friendly Street Poets. Entry is $5. The readings at Halifax Café are always a great event. Further details on Facebook.

Launch: CARTE BLANCHE

Thom Sullivan Carte Blanche

This Saturday, 20 July 2019, my debut book of poems will be launched at Mothership Studios, at 18-22 Sydney Street, Marrickville, Sydney, from 2:30-4:30pm, along with new books of poems by Peter Boyle, Natalie Harkin, and L.K. Holt. Sydneysiders are welcome to attend. Copies of CARTE BLANCHE will be available at the launch, and are available already from vagabondpress.net, along with all of Vagabond Press’s 2019 releases – books by Peter Boyle, a.j. carruthers, Toby Fitch, Natalie Harkin, L.K. Holt, and Jessica L. Wilkinson. A launch in my home city, Adelaide, will follow. Further details soon.

New poem in ‘The Sky Falls Down’

Thom Sullivan Cut

I’m delighted to have my poem ‘Cut’ published in the newly released The Sky Falls Down: An Anthology of LossThe anthology includes work by 89 writers – both poetry and prose – including poems by Ali Cobby Eckermann, Adrienne Eberhard, Quinn Eades, Lucy Dougan, Kevin Gillam, Alex Skovron, and fellow South Australian poet Jules Leigh Koch. Editors Terry Whitebeach and Gina Mercer have been at work on the anthology since at least 2014, and it’s recently found its way into the world. The Sky Falls Down (308pp) is available from Ginninderra Press

Monuments [a landscape]

35°06’44.1”S  138°53’17.9”E

35°08’43.6”S  138°53’27.3”E

35°08’16.4”S  138°56’12.4”E

35°09’40.4”S  138°58’29.0”E

35°10’26.3”S  138°59’23.0”E

35°11’01.3”S  139°00’11.7”E

35°09’29.8”S  139°01’10.5”E

35°09’15.5”S  139°01’32.7”E

35°08’23.1”S  139°01’42.4”E

35°06’42.1”S  139°02’14.8”E

35°07’08.0”S  138°59’21.9”E

35°05’55.2”S  139°00’08.8”E

35°05’50.4”S  139°00’09.2”E

35°03’51.5”S  138°55’15.0”E

35°04’51.9”S  138°55’05.6”E

35°06’04.8”S  138°54’03.7”E

35°06’05.5”S  138°53’58.4”E

35°06’48.1”S  138°54’25.0”E

35°07’x0.1”S  138°54’x5.4”E

 

After Richard Long’s ‘A Ten Mile Walk England’ (1968)