Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Destructing the poem: Ern Malley goes to Sappho Books

Toby Fitch organised a celebration of Ern Malley's 99th birthday (14 March). There were many there. Sixteen poets, academics, and others read a poem each. The audience was vibrant. Judith Rodriguez was there, and David Malouf, Beate Josephi, Andrew Taylor and lots of others. Readers included, Joanne Burns, aj carruthers, Leif Mahoney (who had been bruiting this idea about for some time), me (Chris Mansell), Kate Middleton, Amanda Stewart, Richard Tipping (who brought the original Angry Penguins edition), John Tranter etc


Michele Seminara took this pic  
of this reading mid-action. 
Low light. Far away.

My allocated poem was Night Piece (alternative version). I'd originally been allocated Night Piece so I compared/edited/stripped down the two poems.

First Night Piece:

 And here is the alternative version (also by Ern of course):

Then I thought I'd see what the differences were and see if that made any sort of sense. I've left in the Track Changes/edit so you can see I did not cheat with this. Nymph was deleted and then inserted because it changed its position.

I read this - the alternative alternative version.

And then I wondered what the remainder looked like (extracted from the blue above):

The question then is do any of the versions seem better to a contemporary ear? When you read some of the other poems in the magazine of the time you can see why Max Harris might have leapt at these poems.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, go to Jacket:
or more comprehensively Jacket2: