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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Jill Jones 'What Are My' poem and 'Dark Bright Doors'

Australian poet, Jill Jones, has long been a friend of mine (I'm proud to say). We met on an internet literary list and connected through poetry events across Australia.

In recent times I have become even more transfixed by her poetry because of the playfulness of much of her process, playfulness which often leads to enriched art. It is a truism that all art begins in play but it also needs that underground, that rich vein, to hoist it out of the everyday. 'Making the extraordinary out of the ordinary' has become a cliche, but there is an element in Jill's poetry that does just that. She'll catch a train and you'll end up thinking of many another journey. She'll hear a song, apply it to a place in her memory, an event, and your matching set of memories will come to life. I'm a fan.

... so in my short sojourn as November Editor of TRUCK poetry magazine at I asked Jill for some poems. She obliged - I've posted three poems over there, all with a different tone and structure, so I'll put up one here to wet your appetite:

‘What Are My’

WHAT ARE MY clothes worth what
are my clothes if they fall or are
taken within a box that if taken
away to be burnt or buried sailed away
on rivers which disappear breezes on
borders and roads and grid brown borders
wilder when they fall and flake wilder
with my naked arms naked ears with
sounds burning sounds burying sounds
saved in particles and streams not saved
but scattered as tokens in roads but
not any more than more or if more not
less than other than this hope less
free scattering no return falling free

Sometimes you want to say even here
is elegance even as it falls apart in the
opulent choking time spinning air

Jill Jones

I've recently been travelling around a bit, and I've been reading Jill's latest book, Dark Bright Doors (Wakefiled Press, 2010), in coffee lounges, airports, on board planes, in buses driving through other landscapes, and strange bedrooms. It has been its own journey, enjoying the poems and searching down the process she went through to create the poems. So many layers to enjoy! The creation of poetry is at least a two-hander - the poet and the reader. When you read these poems, you too will become engaged in a richly various creative journey. 

Dark Bright Doors raises questions of the self, as well as the ecology of place and language. This is Jones at her most versatile and idiosyncratic, at times a little wild and dark. The poems are intimate, sharp, self-critical and very present.

What the critics have said about Dark Bright Doors:

"Jill Jones’s sparse lyrics, most barely filling a page, are warm, wondrous and sensual. From [the] opening image it is clear that these poems will be dark, sinuous, unsettling and enigmatic. The volume does not disappoint. It gleams. ... This is not transparent poetry. It is intelligent and elusive as well as allusive ... Portraying a dysfunctional and disquieting dystopia, Jones’s poetry is both symptomatic of and diagnostic of this fallen realm we inhabit: the Twenty-First Century. ... Yet here and there are glimpses of tranquillity ... revelling in colour, form, plane, angle and light. I cannot speak highly enough of Jill Jones’s work. She is quite simply one of the best poets writing in Australia today, and her poetry deserves a wide audience – indeed, it demands to be read." - Alison Clifton,M/C Review, May 2010

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