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Friday, 30 January 2009

Poem by John Tranter

Eyewear is pleased to feature one of the true pioneers of online poetry this Friday, and one of the English-speaking world's most active, engaged and compelling contemporary poetic talents.

John Tranter (pictured) is the founding editor and publisher of the online literary magazine Jacket, at http://www.jacket.zip.com.au/ and is the leading Australian poet of his generation. For more than thirty years he has been at the forefront of the new poetry, questioning and extending its procedures.

He was born in Cooma, New South Wales, in 1943. He attended country schools, and took his BA in 1970 after attending university sporadically. He has worked mainly in publishing, teaching and radio production. He has lived in London (1966-67) and Singapore (1971-72), and now lives in Sydney.

He has published many volumes of poetry, including Urban Myths: 210 poems: New and Selected. A selection of his poems appears in the Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry (New York, second edition, 1988). His recent books include The Floor of Heaven (Harper Collins, 1992), a book-length sequence of four verse narratives, At The Florida (UQP, 1993), which won the Melbourne Age Poetry Book of the Year award for 1993; Late Night Radio (1998) and several from Salt. He compiled and edited (with Philip Mead) the new Penguin Book of Modern Australian Poetry (1992), published in Britain and the US in 1995 as the Bloodaxe Book of Modern Australian Poetry.


Care and Feeding of a Small Poem

Allow enough sunlight. Ignore
that traffic, it’s going nowhere.
Wear something nice. When I smile,

smile. Write an entry in your diary
that will display, to future generations
of grieving fans, your fastidious manners.

Don’t let on how you grovelled
and sobbed when you were ten.
Stay away from violent or distressing movies.

A special recipe would go well here:
the baked eel you fondly imagine
everyone likes. And a watercolour,

or, failing the talent for that, a photograph
of a child on an empty, rain-soaked beach.
Write about how you live life to the full,

despite the migraine and the panic attacks.
Now secure all this in a locked box
and throw away the key.


poem by John Tranter
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