Friday, 3 June 2011

Sue Wootton, peculiar poet, too

Editorial intrusion: from now until Slightly Peculiar Love Stories is launched — let's say mid June, fingers and toes crossed – we'll give a free copy as soon as it's ready to anyone buying a copy of The Glass Harmonica here 

Sue's story in the collection is peculiarly sensuous and achingly wistful. Do explore her website.

Here's a peculiar love poem. A couple of winters ago I spent a lot of time with Raymond Carver. Well, a lot of time reading Raymond Carver, but it's the same thing. For a while my daily life in Dunedin, New Zealand was filtered through a Carver-esque lens. 'Breakfast with Raymond Carver' was the result. The epigraph is from Carver's poem 'Looking for Work', which begins  I have always wanted brook trout/for breakfast. In his poem, he speaks of the quest to find 'a new path/to the waterfall'. Every writer knows the difficult task of getting to 'the waterfall', and the joy of finding it. The path can be quite peculiar. Like love.

Breakfast with Raymond Carver

 …brook trout for breakfast…
           from ‘Looking for Work’ by Raymond Carver

He says This way! He says
but I have to warn you
there may not be brook trout; there may instead be
birds like small brown empty wallets in the trees.

But what trees! Sharp and hairy as a man’s shins
when he lies in bed all day simply because it rains,
his heart going flip, flip, like playing with the top of a carton,
sucking itself down to the filter in only three drags.

Look, I say, camellias: crimson, with stamens like the hairdos
of recently re-blonded wives. But these are the wrong flowers.
Not enough snow, or kitchens, or bare yards, or pickups full of men
and beer and fishing lines. Not enough fish. Not enough cold river.

After the waterfall I make coffee, and there is a table.
No violets, but these bruisable camellias.
He is looking out the window. He is watching cars crawl
and some weather building. A boy’s arm and a girl’s waist.

We talk of selling sofas. And love, of course.

Breakfast with Raymond Carver is from Magnetic South (Steele Roberts 2008). It won the 2006 Aoraki Literary Festival poetry award.

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