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Poetry Writing Part 2

By July 20, 2019News, Poetry
a cheerio call from inside of the poem in its making 

here I am back again

happening to be in a Norway summer
high above the Arctic Circle
no chance of sunset at all
(see pictures, stay tuned for midnight sun)

…. and right now I am
making an example out of a poem 

here I am
writing a poem in the form of a poem
about the poem I’m shaping
(you could get a reputation for this kind of thing
… writing about the writing of it
being in the process…
telling the ways and means)

anyway, I do hope can you see me in here
some sign of life?
requires imagination…
and if I fall into prose, then I’m gone
(a million, dad would say)
you don’t get to make the poem
without first being in a poem
(that’s because poems are the most important of the many places poems are from)
all along, in this process
I am discovering the rules
I test them till they break
break them again and
here I am once more
breaking whatever rules had to be guessed
in its making [the poem’s, that is]
(and that’s a noun or that’s a verb
depending on apostrophe)

you have to keep up… it’s steep
but the views!

and midst of them
here I am
I make a little spectacle of myself
making the poem
(and need the spectacles too at this stage
to see the poem at all
[let these serve as the ‘objective conditions’])

the words here?
almost all inherited
I make up a few
but mainly make us of those provided

…this is all by way of introduction to the poem in the poem under construction
(always as ever)

first on paper
(see the picture!)
and then I’ll type up
(like climbing some stairs high into the text that had to be)

here is one from where I am far
(I know you’re waving but I can’t see
… must adjust reception)

this piece was going to be part of
immensity and wonder 
(now I’m not so sure)

motto first
when you’ve gone too far, go further 

(would be an epigraph but it’s mine
… I could dilate upon this later)

enough blather, this is the poem I was working on then
(couple of days ago)… it was on Day 1285 since the beginning of Project 366
(that was on the 1st of January, 2016, so now is July 2019… above the Arctic Circle, remember
… in other words, it was the 1285th draft in the series)

one day opened the door and summer came in 

just a little shy first
stood at the door to be beckoning

must have been hanging about outside

was as if it had been waiting
considering the curtains

I took a deckchair
hung out with the world

there were great swathes of big yellow

hung the world out to dry

summer stood like a statue then
still in the air
not quite a shimmer

not all there
nevertheless there were insects for proof
unidentified (each with the air of the just invented)

and still I remember those terrible eyes
and how this world is other-ended
but that is another story

for now
the south on all its stiff wings had arrived
to say day
the sky stood off

clouds forgot themselves entirely

all glowed
and cherished this moment
we each of us knew
would never
and never would
come again


back again
here I am
can you feel the rhythm in the repetition
(here and gone - fort! da!…
there’s good repetition and bad)

and here though that draft endeth
I will over time go back and fiddle

(a kind of Nietzschean ‘eternal return’
except that you’ll forget, go on
far and away
absorbed in new text
new adventures
boys own in my case…

because I can’t be in words twice the same
that’s not how language ever worked
or will

it’s a kind of Australian Norway I suppose I’m cooking up here
but is that the right thing to do?
especially when Norway’s so much more like New Zealand
(though without the earthquakes)

often I overwhelm myself with this sort of thing
(and it happens every day)
have to hold on to steady
because you

in deep of the mirror wading

this is where the poem must be

all my own

far ahead of the game

I need never have doubted myself

it’s a shallow swim through own muck
such as gods give
but the water’s too cold here
[I did though manage a whole minute in a fjord
but that was below the circle]

… so much ellipsis…

and back to the breach

you simply have to believe

keep brackets open here

Christopher (Kit) Kelen (客遠文) is a well-known Australian poet, scholar and visual artist, and Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Macau, where he taught Creative Writing and Literature for many years. Kit Kelen’s poetry has been published and broadcast widely since the seventies, and he has won a number of prestigious awards over the years, including an ABA/ABC Bicentennial Prize in 1988; and in 1992 an Anne Elder award for his first volume of poems The Naming of the Harbour and the Trees. He has also won Westerly‘s Patricia Hackett Prize and placed second in Island’s Gwen Harwood Prize. In 2012, his poem ‘Time with the Sky’ was runner up in the Newcastle Poetry Prize, an award for which he has been frequently shortlisted. In 2017, Kit was shortlisted twice for the Montreal Poetry Prize and, for the second time, won the Local Award in the Newcastle Poetry Prize. In 2018, he was longlisted for the ACU and University of Canberra’s Vice Chancellors’ prizes. Volumes of Kit Kelen’s poetry have been published in Chinese, Portuguese, French, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Indonesian and Filipino and Norwegian. The most recent of Kelen’s dozen English language volumes is Poor Man’s Coat  Hardanger Poems, published by UWAP in 2018.