Postcards

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December 9, 2015.   Warburton Pantry. 

 

The postcards have arrived today from the printers: beautiful, decadent cards with photography by Kate Baker and design by Ann Roberts Graphic Design.  I love the softness in the texture of the card, the creamy borders that bestow an antique look, and the 1920s postcard style on the back.  It was important to me to make a ‘real’ postcard that hopefully someone will write a little greeting on, stick on a stamp, and send in the mail.  The first one I will send will be to my sister, Dani, also a writer, with whom I have a long tradition of handwritten correspondence.  Kate’s portrait of me (seen at the top of this page) is on the front of the cards.

On the back, you see this…

 

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I intend to leave little piles of them, or maybe sometimes just a single one, with my own handwritten inscription, in the public spaces where I write.  I have various performance artworks happening or in planning, but this is my personal one, quiet and gentle.  It’s my performance artwork of a daily practice: writing, my practice enclosed by the small rituals of my tea preparations and sipping.

I put my journal on the cafe table.  The tea paraphernalia arrives, and slowly I wait for a few moments as it steeps and reaches optimal temperature, and then I take the little milk jug from the cup, pour in my milk, turn the pot a couple of times, arrange the strainer over the surface of the cup (it always reminds me of a delicate bridge suspended over water), and pour the tea, a little stream at a time. I don’t take sugar, but I swirl the spoon without touching the bottom, to get the tea to the right colour.  And I sip.  I may open my journal then, but sometimes I leave it a while and think… starting the work deep on the inside.  I am in my own space, but I’m aware of what’s going on around me too, aware of the people who pass by, all intricately laced up in the poems and stories of their lives.

 

If you comment here and you are one of the first ten to do so, I will send you a postcard.

 

***

 

I’ve been working on a poem called ‘Bleu Myosotis‘. It is long and chunky and I’ve been looking at John Berryman’s Dream Songs for his arrangement of lines.  I’m noticing the relief I find in writing poetry.  It gives me a sense of at-homeness that I’ve not really ever experienced in prose writing even though nearly all have my publications so far have been in prose. I like the presence of time and timing in poetry.  I like the spaciousness.  I like to dance and in poetry I am in movement.  When I write poetry, I am dancing.

November 18, 2015

 

I’m writing in the street, my tea has gone cold and the hot wind is distracting.  The discomfort’s apt though, because the poem I’m making the first hesitant gestures towards has a painful, difficult energy to it.

The poem is the tenth in a series I’m drafting for a book project, a collaboration with analogue photographer Kate Baker.  You can look at Kate’s moody, deep, black-and-white photographs at earthviolets.com.au.

The project relates to Kate Baker’s photographic series, ‘Nijinsky and the Ecstasy of the Divine’, the subject of the exhibition Nijinsky: Leap and Pause at Mars Gallery, Melbourne, July-August 2015, and scheduled for further exhibition in 2016. The book will come out in 2016.

The poem I am beginning, in handwriting in my journal, is a kind of conversation with the photograph titled ‘Spring Cometh’.

 

'Spring Cometh' photograph ©Kate Baker

‘Spring Cometh’
photograph ©Kate Baker  earthviolets.com.au

 

I’m seeing what comes up, and so far the process begins with fragments of what I know of the Nijinsky ballet The Rite of Spring (2013). Riots erupted at its opening in Paris. Its newness – the strangeness of it – transformed ballet forever. It was not a pretty ballet, but a violent, primal one. As I work at the poem’s first rough and dirty shapes, I get angry, remembering, from deep in the body, times I have felt pushed to take radical, even shocking action to bring about change in a relationship; in my life. Jubilation shows itself too – what it has been like for me to be in a magnificent sense of flowering after dark, inchoate times.

I can feel that I was frowning while I worked.  Back into being aware of sitting in my chair out front of the cafe, blowflies are bothering me and I’m self-conscious all of a sudden.  My heart rate is fast and I’m sweating with the intensity of what I’ve been writing.  I’m ready to go inside and pay, pack up my books, and walk home, feeling as always disoriented by the shift from writing to the walk and to the arrival home.