Oct 012017

Poetry is neither stuffy nor boring. Poetry is all about words and images that convey humour, realism and fun. One of my favourite poets is Jan Owen. Jan is a modern poet with transparent links to the past.

The Australian Poetry Library website includes 479 of Ms Owen’s poems. Of these, I particularly recommend:

To give you a flavour, here is The Pangolins:

Throwing the I Ching by the northern wall
(Mountain over Water: the cataract clears),
rereading the dubious message in dubious light,
dusk there is as brief as thirty years.
The dogs were off at the end of the garden, barking
at moonlight or monkeys, tenor and alto and bass.
Under the rambutans it was lighting-up time,
teetering lanterns in the bushes and grass
were practising emerald — becoming, yes, here;
the fireflies above were loopy with desire.
A pounding of fists south-east from the Surau
was the kampong boys on their Thursday drums. The air
yearned after the odd missed beat like a tired heart.
And then the stranger came. Out of the neat
fit of the dark. Self stood back. No-name
trundled up, snuffling the mulch with her slender snout.
She was the presence of many grandmothers, homely,
buttressing wonder, nosing around the boles
of the clumped bananas; tip to tapering tip,
a relaxed bell curve validated with scales
perfectly graded — 3:5:8:13 …
Her back was firm terrain under my hand,
an equable riddle with a waddle (Earth over Earth:
a friend will be lost, a friend will be found).
I squatted down. She paused and quirked her head:
this was no tree. To run or not to run?
To amble. With dignified haste like the shopping-bag rush
for the 5 p.m. to Rawang in Ramadan.
What goes on four legs at night and none at noon?
At dawn alert next day Suwanti chained
the dogs away from their round jungle-green enigma
then bowled the baby into the hedge to its kind.