Sunday, September 26, 2004

Shelving books

Yesterday I wrote to 'PoetryEtc', a poetry discussion list - 'But, like Doug B(arbour), the books I need to reference this are in boxes. Still. I'm a lazy sod. Andrew' This admission somehow got me off my butt and I spent last night shelving books - not in the right order, mind you, just as the hand found them out of their carton boxes. As usual, surprising juxtapositions came up: 'The Dance of Intimacy' next to 'Teach Yourself Writing Erotic Fiction'; 'The Art of the Tale' sits next to 'Waiting For Godot'; and a comfortable coupling with 'Over The Fence' neighbourly with 'Standing With Friends'. I had to do it 'blind' or I would have stopped and reread Vallejo, Popa, Beaver, Oz ... ahh, I've forgotten a lot of the content of books I once read.

Sleep is not so much a necessary item at the tail end of the day you're in as the next day ... today.

In my shelving of books, I came across an old notebook. It started out so tidily with a quote from Donald Hall: Every flesh is flawed and poems are flesh (from 'The Poet's Notebook'). Then there are instant notes written at some outback poetry reading, somewhat messier, but still vaguely tidy ... My favourite from these pages is this:

There's a cow in our words
at the rural reading -
Chinese ancients,
four wheel drives ...

Then all tidiness dissolves and there are notes written rapidly in a client meeting for a copywriting job. One of these notes resonates for me about the contents of this notebook, and perhaps all my wide-ranging writing - 'Check out for menu changes'. Different moods bring different meanings to the same phrase (there must be a swag of literary theory on that somewhere!)

And in this notebook is a page of Japanese sayings, cadged from a book in an upstairs study at Varuna Writers Centre when I was there (set in the Blue Mountians at Katoomba). I'll share a saying a day, starting with - 'It is better to be the beak of a hen than the tail of an ox.'

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