Whenever I see Anne’s name in a poetry journal I know I am in for a treat. Her poetry is elegant and edible, sparse and thoughtful. I always enjoy the human perspective in her observations of the natural world. She paints with words which isn’t surprising since she’s an accomplished visual artist.
We met over coffee when she was poet in residence in Kew, a suburb familiar to us both. We talked about many things; of her life rich in teaching, writing, art and collaborations and of the pain over the loss of her life partner which would later galvanize her beautiful and well-received first collection, Removing the Kimono. Anne is my guest for October.
Mother-stone is womb
i.m. EK, remembering a friend, Lake Mungo (Willandra Lakes), NSW
Ankle-deep in history, following your receding, check-
shirted back. Landscape scraped and gouged out of the
rock of the planet – long-dry lake-bed, lunettes pitting
the terrain with moon-shaped hollows. Heat makes it
harsh, rises in blurry waves. The sun has flayed the pelt
right off the land, leaving it leather-like; baked and cured
with patches of spilling sand. Trees have no foothold –
there’s no shade to shelter under. All I can see is pristine
nature – nothing tells me a human story. Each time I lever
a buried foot free I peel back another decade, another
century, another contested millennium – to you too
short an estimate. Part park-ranger, part hierophant, you
turn and say: our technology, swinging your arms in an
inclusive 360 arc, it’s all around us! Your words conjure
modernity, electronica, bamboozling what I think I know.
Underfoot the sand slips again. You’re already squatting
ready to give the next lesson. You pick up a hand-sized
rock, point to a mound shaped like the heel of the thumb
on a palm. Bulb of percussion you say proudly, triumphantly,
anointing the bulb with its true technical name. So much
force, you say, and precision to flake a chip the shape and
fineness you want. You’re introducing me to an Aboriginal
Rosetta – text notched and nuanced by human hand, ancient
translation tool. Portal to the long-gone past. You hold
out a handful of flakes, show me how convex fits into
concave, as if mother-stone is womb to flake, containing
it all in nuce. Now I see pieces of worked stone all around
us, stone dedicated to specific uses – knives, points, axes,
blades. This a kind of awl for piercing, this a blade for
scraping and this would be tied and glued to a spear!
What I took to be sand dune and random rock has turned
into a quarry with work-stations and knappers plying their
trade, like a cartoon – while I watch it comes to life, morphing
into three dimensions, gaining depth of field, veracity.
This poem was long-listed in the inaugural Canberra University, Vice Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize
Two green parrots
Two green parrots wing across a granite sky.
Grief and hope together again, as close as
fingers on a hand, feathers on a wing.
They don’t fly straight as arrows do into
a standing target, they are not ammunition
fired out of the sky’s dark mouth. They dip
and rise, weaving sinew and delight into
strands of effortless grace, calling as they go.
What do humans know of the calls of birds?
But it sounds like liquid pleasure, it sounds
like they laugh and make merry against
the backdrop of the approaching storm.
First published in Plumwood Mountain
The marmalade fox
The fur on the marmalade fox is as bright as the jam
sent back to Paris from the orange groves of Marrakesh.
The globes of thousands of Moroccan suns squeezed
into jars. All that compressed bitterness and sweetness
casbahs the colour. Hold a jar up to the light, see pith
swimming in amber transluscence.
So much life still in him, dead and maggoty
by the side of the road. Wind riffles his fur, sun combs his
Anne M Carson is a Melbourne writer and visual artist whose first full-length collection of poems, Removing the Kimono, was published by Hybrid Publishers in 2013. She has won and been commended in numerous poetry prizes including most recently being long-listed in the inaugural Canberra University, Vice Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize. In 2014 she established the SecondBite Poetry Prize. She has curated two programmes for Radio National’s PoeticA and hosted a series of poetry and music soirees, most recently the River Soiree on Herring Island which raised funds for the Melbourne River Keepers. As a Creative Writing Therapist she has edited and facilitated the group process which has resulted in the publication of three books. She teaches Poetry Writing and Appreciation to adults.
Her visual art is based on photography and botanical specimens. Her photographs and art panels have been exhibited in galleries and florist shops and used as greeting cards, a literary journal cover and book-mark.
Removing the Kimono is available from Amazon US and her website: www.annemcarson.com
Reviews of Removing the Kimono available at: http://cordite.org.au/?s=anne+m+carson