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Australia

"October 1999" by Bruce Beaver [Introduced by Thomas Moody]

Bruce Beaver (1928-2004) has been called one of Australia’s “least known great poets” by Dorothy Porter and a “poet’s poet” by Timothy Schapcott. The two epithets reference the same quality: that of a poet who was underappreciated by the wider reading public but whose importance to contemporary Australian poetry has never been questioned by those readers who, perhaps, matter most: poets themselves.

Beaver published thirteen collections of poetry over the course of his life, winning almost every major Australian literary award. His fourth book of poems, Letters to Live Poets (1969), was a seminal collection, groundbreaking in both its form and style. Beaver’s conversational, epistolary voice, at once personal and worldly, was entirely new for Australian poetry. As Schapcott writes,”Nothing like this had been written in Australia before.”

 

Bruce

Beaver was central to Australian poetry’s development towards more expansive horizons as both a poet and mentor. He was one of the original board members in 1964 of the highly influential journal Poetry Australia, which, with its embrace of international movements and openness to experimentation, was at the vanguard of poetry in Australia for over a decade. Throughout his life, Beaver’s apartment in the beachside Sydney suburb of Manly, which he shared with his wife and was built on the ruins of his childhood home, was a welcoming meeting place for younger writers and poets.




October 1999

 Got my gal, got my Lord, got my song

Gershwin, Gershwin, Heyward

It’s come! Spring’s second month with
hot and cold days and the last
October in two thousand years.
This time the fin de siecle’s
crazier than even the frogs
could imagine, even though they
invented nutty ends of centuries.
This time more bombs, earthquakes,
floods, droughts, gun-murders as well as
more pink and white blossoms
in the perfectly sane streets, full
of not-so-sane human beings.
But most of them are in love, including
me because we’re still alive
enough and the weather’s warming up.
It’s like the Old Testament: great poetry,
lousy theology and a God –
damned God – Still there’s the Lord
to come in the New Millennium and this new
Spring. Blossoms and bombs. Every
Spring’s mad with love and wars,
babies and murderers. And if you think I’m
not going to keep on chanting about
it, you’re nuttier than the century’s end.




 


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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly

Radio

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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