Saturday, 31 July 2010

Poetry Month Farewell

Fremantle Poetry Month is drawing to a close – and it’s been an absolute cracker. Thank you for sharing it with us! The chance to pause and focus on poetry has energised us at the Press, and, judging from the many emails and conversations the month has generated, many of you have enjoyed it too.

There was the launch of John Mateer’s
The West, Caroline Caddy’s Burning Bright and New Poets featuring Scott-Patrick Mitchell, J.P. Quinton and Emma Rooksby, an evening which nearly burst the Fremantle Arts Centre at its seams, and which was well-represented by many of Perth’s poetry groups, together with the Mayor of Fremantle, Brad Pettitt, Adele Carles MLA and Melissa Parke MP. Thanks to MC Peter Barr, and to performers Amber Fresh & Lil Leonie Lionheart, Janet Jackson, Wendy Jenkins, Nandi Chinna and Xave Brown.

There was the masterclass for a select group of talented poets who had submitted their work for consideration in
New Poets. Conducted by Tracy Ryan, and including one poet from the south-west and another from up north, the day-long event has created a mini-community of practitioners who have continued their conversations online ever since.

There was a Meet the Poets evening, an intimate event hosted by Camilla Cavoli at the
Fremantle Library, in which members of the community heard from and joined in conversation with John Mateer, Scott-Patrick Mitchell and J.P. Quinton.

And there were the student workshops and teacher PD held in the final week of July at the
Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre, attended by 80 students, and many teachers besides. I like to think of the raft of students who will benefit from their teachers’ attendance.

Throughout the month, we have enjoyed your conversation, your contributions, your poems and the poems of others, on Facebook and this blog.

Yesterday we announced Richard King as the winner of the villanelle competition. You've been able to read and enjoy the entries for the competition on this blog in the last fortnight. Richard receives a confidential assessment from in-house editor Wendy Jenkins and myself, poetry publisher Georgia Richter.

Thank you to our many sponsors who confirmed for us that we are part of a vibrant and supportive community: thanks to City of Fremantle for its generous support of the month, and to Fremantle Library, Fremantle Arts Centre, Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre, Radio Fremantle, Sunline Press, indigo journal, Out of the Asylum, WA Poets Inc, Plantagenet Wines, Little Creatures, and Galati & Sons.

Thank you above all to Kiri Falls for her superb stewardship of the month, and to Ellen Broad, Kiri’s highly capable assistant.

I hope you will join us next July for our second Fremantle Poetry Month when we will launch the second book in the Fremantle Poets series:
Two Poets, featuring Kevin Gillam and Andrew Lansdown. We will also publish Tracy Ryan’s wonderful new collection, The Argument, and Mike Heald’s extraordinary book of ‘anti-poems’, entitled The Witness.

Why is publishing poetry important to me? Not so long ago, the West Australian poet Megan McKinlay told a classroom of young students that she has always seen the world through the eyes of a poet. It’s how she makes her way through the world. As a young child, her father used to read her poetry and even though she didn’t know what it was, or understood half of what he said, she knew she liked it. She heard the poems and recognised that way of being in the world. In that class, I like to think, was a twelve year old poet who understood precisely what Megan was saying.

Being a poet is a way of apprehending the world. The poets who touch us most, I believe, are the ones most exquisitely expressing the apprehension, the tension, of what it is to be human.

… or ‘like’ –
a small prickly pin
that connected
the most beautiful
lost metaphor of the world
– from ‘We fall asleep on words’, Zbigniew Herbert

If you want to know what it feels to be attached to the world by a poem, just read the extraordinary work of Anne Carson, a favourite poet of mine. Or David McComb of The Triffids in his collection,
Beautiful Waste.

Not all that is written should be published, but it is equally unthinkable to me that other poems remain unseen and unheard. And some of these – a modest drop of these – I am privileged enough to be able to publish.

Why is poetry important?

‘Memory,’ says the poet, trying not to recall
Waking with a gun in his face, soldiers
ripping the coverlets off his children –
who burrowed their bodies into their beds abandoning
their bodies like the remains of a feast
not worth touching.
– from ‘Everytime we say goodbye’, Ross Bolleter,
Piano Hill

Because it is always bigger than itself. And because we read it for its own sake. Nothing more.

Georgia Richter
Poetry Publisher, Fremantle Press

(You'll note this blog's design has changed - since August is almost upon us, we've adopted a theme of biodiversity. After all, it's the International Year of Biodiversity in 2010, and we have several books with environmental themes out this month, as you'll see. Stay tuned.)

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