Difficult to Explain, edited by Finuala Dowling

  
 
Difficult to Explain (Hands-On Books, 2010) is more than just an anthology of highly accessible, striking, funny, quirky, tender and moving poems. It is also a much-needed companion for poets and teachers, offering a series of inspirational exercises as well as memorable reflections on the art of teaching creative writing.
 
Poet and creative writing teacher Finuala Dowling has put together a collection of the best poems that have emerged from her current and recent poetry workshops. The collection includes a new, unpublished poem by Finuala as well as contributions by established writers who have attended her classes.
 
Contributors include Sally Argent, Leila Bloch, Melissa Butler, Margaret Clough, Kerry Hammerton, Colleen Higgs, Jordan Kantey, Michael Keeling, Pam Newham, Dorothy Paramore, Lara Potgieter, Angela Prew, Cornelia Rohde, Consuelo Roland, Beverly Rycroft, Karin Schimke, Annette Snykers, Heather Tibshraeny and Winifred Thomson.
 
 
 
Lijiang River
Dorothy Paramore
 
The ukai cormorant
dove deep, brought in the day’s catch,
flew rockwards,
stood statuesque under a fading sky,
wings hung out to drip dry.
 
 
 
The Gulls
Cornelia Rohde
 
The old men wait in the boathouse,
no longer fishermen, skippers, carpenters.
They laze around in greasy overstuffed chairs,
groan about their bones,
gossip about who is
sporting a gold chain,
who lurches down the road
drunk at dawn,
about Jock’s boy
high on crack, totalling his Jag,
about Millie who shot straight off
the dock when her brakes failed on the curve.
Around them, gulls cluster and squawk
amplifying the vacant clack of old men blind
to the hull silently poling towards them.
 
 
 
Joy Ride
Pam Newham
 
When you’re old enough we’ll go on a trip.
Just you and me.
We’ll pack boiled eggs and sandwiches
and tea in a flask.
(You have to have a flask)
And we’ll mark the route on a map in pen.
(No, let’s just go)
We’ll set off while everyone else
is still asleep.
And we’ll take our time
and sing our favourite songs.
(Singing loudly’s a must)
And when we stop for fuel
we’ll buy ice cream
and let it drip through our fingers.
We’ll see places with names like
Katbakkies Pass and Krokodil Port
and Bibby’s Hoek and Bela Bela.
We’ll stop for timid tortoises
and to watch dingy sheep.
Then, at night, we’ll find a B&B.
(A farm would be good)
And we’ll make a fire
and lie on our backs
and smell the curling wood smoke
while we count the stars.
Or we’ll take a torch
and hunt for nagapies in a tree.
(There and there and there)
When you’re old enough we’ll go on a trip.
Just you and me.
And no matter how many times you ask,
“Are we there yet?”
I will say,
“Yes, we’re there.”
 
 
 
To adventurers, as far as I’m concerned
Finuala Dowling
 
There is a climber on TV dangling
from a rope about to die.
He reminds me of the stranded balloonist,
parched in the desert, about to die
who reminds me of the solo yachtsman with broken arms,
4000 kilometres from anywhere, about to die
who reminds me of the men who tried to play
Scott-of-the-Antarctic Scott-of-the-Antarctic
and who ended up hating each other and about to die.
 
Oh misled, unfortunate adventurers: stay home!
What would it take to make you stay at home?
There’s so much to do: Make tea! Clean out the shed!
Find your inner mountain and climb it
Find your inner sea and chart it
Find your inner arid plain and trudge across it
as we all do, daily,
harnesses in the canyon
crampons in the glacier.
 
Imagine how much we’d save on search and rescue
if you would only stay at home
Imagine how many we could save
if you would only cease this quest for accidental death
and talk about your feelings; or clean the shed.
 
 
 
from Difficult to Explain, edited by Finula Dowling
(Hands-On Books, 2010)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s