Poetry Shelf noticeboard: David Eggleton’s talk on Peter Olds

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David Eggleton‘s first post as our current Poet Laureate is a talk he gave on Peter Olds at Noticing Peter Olds, an informal symposium on the poetry of Peter Olds, organised by Jacob Edmond, Jenny Powell and Anna Jackson, and the University of Otago English Department, and held on Friday 27 September, 2019 in the University of Otago Business School building.

Rad full talk at the Poet Laureate site

I want to argue that in the poetry of Peter Olds, any day is a good day for taking a line for a walk. As his numerous small publications over the years indicate, his poetry steadily accumulates day by day, made up of lines jotted down and going in and out of notebooks. These lines are the notations of a self-trained observer — gnostic gnawings on the bare bones of reality mayhap, but they always grounded in empirical observation, in tactile factuality. Whereas for some poets to make chin music is to offer a ruminative chewing on the cud of cliché at the pitch that flying insects enter the room, Olds resists falling into that trap by a certain alertness, a certain mental toughness, and by his hard graft of material fought for and processed in an attentive logic of sounds, as in the poem ‘Bad Omakoroa’ from the 2001 collection Music Therapy, published by the Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop, which opens:

Walking past the place where Mrs D
was smashed to death by a speeding car
as she crossed the road to check her letterbox.
A pheasant breaks loudly from
the avocado, flies out of sight
behind a hedge of feijoa.
A blue heron circles the sky.
Pukeko scatter from a vegetable plot.






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