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« WEDNESDAYS WITH DENISE: March 15, 2023 | Main | "The Other Sestina" [by Janice Erlbaum] »

March 15, 2023


I have to say the final line, "I have split the infinitive..." is pretty genius.

P.S. In answer to your question at the end of your review, most definitely "infinitive!"

Thank you, Sally. I agree with you: "infinitve" is the better choice. I believe that "infinite" was the product of a typo. When I have asked people to choose, the vote is 50-50. But then I believe the orihgnal version of Marianne Moore's "Poetry" is much superior to the 3-line version she preferred late in life; yet I when used to ask people to choose, a lot of them picked the latter.

There has been subsequently, at least on Australian shores, an entire School of Ern, where poets would appear who hadn't been known before, complete with their biographies. In the late 1960s/early 70s the wonderful Sydney poet Nigel Roberts brought out his roneoed magazine [as was done in those days] "Free Poetry", only to be somewhat upstaged by by the one edition "Free Grass", complete with a contingent of fabulous hippyesque pieces from folk none of us had ever heard of. This was around the same time as Tom Shapcott's ground breaking anthology "Australian Poetry Now", one which featured the hi-powered Tasmanian Timothy Kline, with his intricate bio-note and over-the-top statement of poetics. Soon there'd come another fabulous versifier, this time in Rae Desmond Jones' magazine "Your Friendly Fascist".in this case the bi-sexual, over-the-top Malay Chinese Billy Ah Lun, who Rae would tell how sent him all these entertainingly creepy, sado-sexual bits and pieces. And then there was the the tragic Toby Nicholson whose druggie career somewhat paralleled that of Micheal Dransfield and a few others.

All the above were hoaxes in their way, not just in their poems but in their biographies. John Tranter produced the "Free Grass" contingent, not merely their poems but their lives; the somewhat older poet Gwen Harwood must have had a great time inventing not just Timothy Kline but his life, works and what he believed in; Rae Jones had a great time for years regaling dinner parties and the like about this funny little man whom he had never met but just kept on sending him these weirdo poems; whilst I had doubtless as much fun inventing both the life of Toby Nicholson and certain of his poems for my verse novel "The Lovemakers".

Both Timothy and Billy made guest appearances years later supplying blurb-quotes for "With The Youngsters". a collection I compiled of Group Villanelles and Group Sestinas composed by my classes at the University of Wollongong. Timothy's quote was most apt: " Why didn't we know this would be the future: the disciplined anarchy of poetry at its most democratic, everything that James McAuley feared and Ern Malley worshipped."

Gwen Harwood invented Walter Lehmann.
It happens that my name is Lehman and my wife's maiden name is Harwood.

Gwen Harwood wrote under at least 7 pseudonyms with the Walter Lehmann being responsible for yet another hoax: one where a poem published in 1960 in The Bulletin, a leading magazine of the time, announced via an acrostic: FUCK ALL EDITORS. Of course where pseudonyms stop and heteronyms take over depends on the creative energies of the poet: certainly Harwood's Timothy Kline with his bio-note and statement of poetics heads in that direction Fernando Pessoa devoted so much of his life to. Whilst McAuley and Stewart mightn't have known it, but Ern was surely in that tradition. One wonders what they would have made of Alberto Caeiro, Álvaro de Campos, and Ricardo Reis, in particular the high-grade modernist excesses of de Campos.

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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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