Poetry Shelf Winter Season: Ian Wedde off-piste

 

From ‘A hymn to beauty: days of a year’

 

Beauty

you’re the trouble I’m in

because there’s a lot of sweetness in my life

with that rude kind of magnificence

as when they hung Le Bateau upside down,

unusually animated and sparking.

Happy Birthday Montgomery Clift:

Where did I see this guy—in Red River

or in From Here to Eternity?

Accept and you become whole

bend and you straighten.

 

 

I hung around a little too long

I was good but now I’m gone,

I may find myself in a tight spot

but forge ahead

where satellite images show Yongbyon

and a mariner in the distance appears cordial.

Happy Birthday Betty Hutton

who is to be found in the lines and gradations

of unsullied snow

for your heart will always be

where your riches are.

 

 

They’re Justified and they’re Ancient

and they drive an ice-cream van

so do what will help

and don’t worry what others think

if King Kong premieres in New York.

In his eyes, beauty may be seen.

Happy Birthday Lou Reed,

as fast as a musician scatters sounds

out of an instrument.

One thing only do I want

to marvel there.

 

©Ian Wedde Three Regrets and a Hymn to Beauty (Auckland University Press, 2005)

 

 

Note for poetry shelf

In ‘Enjoyment’, the preface to Selected Poems (2017), I ‘confess to restlessness and the enjoyment of subverting my own practice’, which is one way of saying I got bored with myself and switched tracks regularly over the years. In a selection covering fourteen collections these swerves look more abrupt than they were. One place where they converge is in ‘A hymn to beauty: days of a year’, a sequence of fifty-seven sections that sampled lines from songs, the day’s horoscope advice to Librans, a ‘today in history’ clip from the Evening Post, the birthday of someone famous, a quote from the shambolic literature of the Sublime, and a religious homily. It took up 22 pages in its original covers (Three Regrets and a Hymn to Beauty, AUP 2005) and I only stopped when a sensible little voice told me to—I was having too much fun. It took me out of an autoethnography groove, it allowed me to mess around with a complex word, beauty, without being trapped by aestheticising lyric conventions, and it construed narrative meanings that had nothing to do with my intentions. Fergus Barrowman first published the whole thing in Sport 32 (Summer 2004) for which I thank him. Here are three sections, the opening one and two more picked at random with my eyes shut.

 

Ian Wedde’s first (very small) book was published by Amphedesma Press in 1971 and in May this year his (fairly chunky) Selected Poems was published by Auckland University Press, with artwork by John Reynolds. A small book about the art of Judy Millar, Refer Judy Millar, is just out from Wunderblock in Berlin. His essay ‘How Not To Be At Home’ is in the anthology Home: New Writing just out from Massey University Press.

 

From Paula: For Poetry Shelf’s Winter Season, I invited 12 poets to pick one of their own poems that marks a shift in direction, that is outside the usual tracks of their poetry, that moves out of character, that nudges comfort zones of writing. It might be subject matter, style, form, approach, tone, effect, motivation, borrowings, revelation, invention, experimentation, exclusions, inclusions, melody …. anything!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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