I enjoy David’s droll humour and references to pop culture, and it looks like we are going to see that and, according to Duwell, a more lyrical McCooey in Star Struck. The ambiguity and perhaps irony of the title contains notions of fate and a place that relates to music and celebrity and comes after his brush with something sinister in the region of the heart. David is launching his new book on Sunday in Geelong and I’m hoping there will be wine to celebrate his stellar contribution to poetry and to welcome his return to health, vitality and old and maybe new habits, ‘crazy for music and listening for God’ Cheers!
Sample poems from David’s latest collection.
In his bedroom, your son looks at pictures
of Ancient Egypt. Dark-haired workers
moving giant blocks of stone in the pale air.
‘What were the workers buried in?’ he asks.
He turns the page to show jackal-headed
Anubis, presider of the weighing of the heart,
laying his hands on a pharaoh’s coffin,
a brightly coloured wooden sleeping bag.
Custom is tool and pathology, you think.
And so is habit. While you set the table
at the appointed hour, laying out the cutlery,
your wife jokes with your son that you are
‘a creature of habit.’ After dinner, there is
the ritual of cleaning away the mess of eating.
The dog is given some half-cooked meat.
Your son has his bath, and returns wrapped
in his Egyptian-cotton towel to suggest that
you write a book called The Monster of Habit.
In the morning, dressed in his gaudy pyjamas,
he builds with his mother a room-sized construction
out of chairs, cushions, and blankets,
filled with unblinking stuffed toys and plastic jewels.
They are playing tomb raiders. You are invited in.
In your sacerdotal dressing gown, you get on
your hands and knees to enter the labyrinth.
You are shown the bewitching everyday things
that have been set aside for the afterlife.
None of it is true: I am
neither malevolent nor
mystical. You have nothing
to fear; I am the one who makes
things bright and
dramatic when they need to be.
Like when I spill myself a
little at sunset. Night after
night you dream of me. One day
you will wake up for good,
and there I will be, at last.
Your new and endless climate.
Don’t look at me; I don’t compose
How To Be a Better Elvis
The Parkes Observatory, surrounded by
its wheat and alien sheep, listens to the stars.
The town statue of the Founding Father looks
to be singing or preaching, an over-sized book in hand.
In January, the Elvis Festival herds in
the over-weight men, the Priscilla look-alikes,
the memorabilia’s promise of a Golden Age.
I’m not interested in the Vegas era.
I return each summer like an old-time itinerant,
getting younger every year, reaching back,
until I find that boy in a Tupelo shotgun shack,
crazy for music and listening for God.
DAVID McCOOEY is a prize-winning poet, critic, and editor. His latest book of poems, Star Struck, was recently published by UWA Publishing. His debut poetry collection, Blister Pack (2005) won the Mary Gilmore Award and was shortlisted for four other major national literary awards.
His second full-length collection, Outside (2011), was shortlisted for the Queensland Literary Awards and was a finalist for the 2012 Melbourne Prize for Literature’s ‘Best Writing Award’.
His work has appeared for ten out of the last eleven years in Black Inc’s annual anthology, The Best Australian Poems. McCooey is the deputy general editor of the prize-winning Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature (2009), published internationally as The Literature of Australia (2009), and he is the author of a critical study on Australian autobiography, Artful Histories, (1996/2009), which won a NSW Premier’s Literary Award.
His poems, essays and reviews have appeared in numerous books, journals, and newspapers. McCooey is also a musician and sound artist. His album of ‘poetry soundtracks’, Outside Broadcast, was released in 2013 as a digital download and is available for streaming on Spotify and elsewhere.
He is a professor of writing and literature at Deakin University in Geelong, where he lives.
Review by Martin Duwell: http://www.hotsdots.com/poetry/2016/10/david-mccooey-star-struck/
Print interview: http://isolatednation.com/articles/pv-davidmccooey
Personal webpage: davidmccooey.com