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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Big High Song for Somebody by Philip Whalen, read at Perth Poetry Club @ The Moon

As I said in relation to the poem Tides which I posted recently, I am keyboarding in the full text of an old book of mine, 'Mother Waits For Father Late', the purpose of which (this activity) will become apparent in time.

The actual close reading of each word and each line, the punctuation and setting out on the page, is very interesting to me. Poem by poem, I can see the influences in my life at the time of composition, and can feel the memory of some of my editing decisions. It is like walking through and meeting again ghosts of those creative moments passed in a completely different frame of mind, a completely different frame of physical reference.

Yesterday I went to a reading at The Moon Cafe by Amanda Joy for the Perth Poetry Club. The audience was a lot smaller than such an interesting and talented poet deserved, so I am glad I attended. When they asked me if I'd like to read, I at first said no because I had not brought any books or typescripts with me, but then I thought of the poems I know by heart from those early days of discovery of modern American poetry, changed my mind, and said yes. So, with a pseudo-American accent which wouldn't have fooled an intern customs officer, I performed Big High Song for Somebody by Philip Whalen, one of my all time favourite poets. I had real fun performing like that, so I have resolved to work on my own work in a more performative way, to express the rhythm and pace of the poems with more vitality than simply reading them.

But it did bring back to my mind, again like the keyboarding instance, the poetic influences and passions of decades gone by, all of which stream into my creative practice today, for good or bad.

The Collected Poems of Philip Whalen is edited by Michael Rothenberg, and published by Wesleyan University Press, Connecticut, in 2007.

Go to for more about Whalen.

Thanks to Amanda Joy for the photo above, clicked with an iPhone - the wonders of today's technology. In times gone by, just decades ago, we would have been waiting for the chemist to open tomorrow morning to place our roll of film in for developing, and then waiting for some days before the prints returned. As for showing them to all of you in the many countries where you reside, I would have been - pleasantly - travelling for weeks.

1 comment:

Amanda Joy said...

really great to read it again Andrew. Loved your performance of it very much.. and thank you always for your kind words and encouragement..