closely reading

First bit of catch up. Late last year, Steve Tills over at Black Spring did a close reading of my poem ’Cowboys’ which was published in Shampoo. You can read Steve’s reading and our discussion on his blog (and many thanks, Steve, for the close reading).

In my comment, I pointed out that the poem was based around something I saw just before Easter in Oxford Street, Sydney some years ago. I suppose I wanted to add that, to me, it's a ‘gay’ poem (if you can say that) but in a very broad sense. However, and obviously, it may not be read as that by others.

All of that commentary from me, however, makes me contemplate how much being from one place and/or culture affects how you read work made in another place/culture. It sounds very obvious, sure, but still you get surprised. I had the same feeling last year when someone mentioned, with regard to a poem of mine which makes reference to (fruit) bats published in The Australian, that when she’d shown it to another friend (in Adelaide, where I live now), that person didn’t really get it. This city doesn’t, apparently, have bats whereas on Australia’s east coast they are ever-present in the city. By the way, I don’t think my poem depends having the experience of the bats, but I wonder about what I don’t get, by poets in this country let alone from elsewhere. Of course, does it matter? Steve’s reading gets to something, in ‘Cowboys’, about empty hearts. That was a feeling I reckon I did put there, so it’s cool with me. Let the close readings continue.


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