My Poem, ‘Between the Islands of the Pacific’

Author Libby Sommer in Harry Hartog bookstore

My poem Between the Islands of the Pacific was first published in June, 2018 in Quadrant magazine alongside poems by Les Murray, Barbara Fisher, Craig Kurtz, Geoff Page, Dan Guenther, Gabriel Fitzmaurice and Graeme Hetherington. Big thank you to Literary Editor, the late Les Murray.

Have a read. Hope you enjoy it.

Between the Islands of the Pacific:

Because by now we know everything is not so blue

out here.

The cities had tipped rubbish into the sea,

and we let them without even noticing.

Not even feeling our breathing clear

as gusts reaching ten knots cleaned up our days.

Not even. Today pure blue sky, blue sea,

out there the horizon drawing a line

below the clouds, the absoluteness of it. Nights

of diesel engines shuddering beneath us.

We lounge on chairs side by side on the deck.

At dusk, we stand at the railing of the ship as the sun

slips into the ocean. In the fresh sea air, their backs turned,

some raise a selfie-stick or light a cigarette while others

stand holding their breath.

Where can we go from here, and how?

Copyright © Libby Sommer 2018

My Prose Poem: In the Mall

My prose poem ‘In the Mall’ was selected as an entry in the Microflix Writers Awards and was available to be chosen by filmmakers for adaption to a short film for the 2019 Microflix Awards. The theme was ‘sound’.

Have a read. Hope you enjoy it.

In the Mall‘:

In a café inside a mall in Sydney a small curly-topped girl sobbed and sobbed. She sat on her father’s lap, stabbing her finger into a slice of banana bread. Her dad soothed, whispered, coaxed. What would you like, Tara? He cut into his poached egg. Toast? he cajoled. The girl sobbed more loudly, wailing, coughing, staring out into the mall. I want my mum. She cuddled a pink soft piglet. Our eyes scanned the glass display of croissants, pies and pastries. I loved every carb that did not pass my lips. I loved the sobbing child who heard no one else in that cafe but herself, whose lungs fought hard to reach a soaring, sorrowful pitch. What have you got? an elderly woman asked her. Still crying, the child held up her toy. Her father gave up on his poached eggs and carried her out, still wailing. We went and sat at the table with the stabbed-at bread her finger had made and swept the moist crumbs into a heap.

Copyright (c) Libby Sommer 2019 

A Poem

woman in white shirt and blue denim short shorts sitting

Hello everyone. Hello to all you fellow quarantiners hanging-in-there.

I’d like to share with you my poem ELSEWHERE, first published in Quadrant magazine in December 2017. Hope you like it. The poem is relevant to today’s situation, in many ways.

 

Elsewhere

Hair remembers how dark a room becomes

when hair is not let loose, straw fallen from the head

of a broom, drifting onto a path,

crunched underfoot by someone who never realised

it was straw. Hair drank, jogged,

ate by itself, knew how to tick ‘Like’

on Social Media. But hair felt

out of touch with itself

unable to distinguish the difference between

fear of the unknown, and fear of something

bad. Hair remembered the ultramarine blue of sea and sky

and the hundred varieties of tuna, calamari and squid.

 

Hair has dreams, that’s what hair does.

Covers over a shiny scalp, frames the face.

Adventure means exploration and discovery.

And hair remembers—blankets of humidity, harsh light,

residing there in the brain’s temporal lobes.

Even now, when hair is back home,

it remembers the wanting things to remain the same

but gives thanks for faraway places

where you can untangle and restyle yourself.

 

© Libby Sommer 2017

Stay safe and be well.

A cheque in the mail lifts the spirits of poor struggling writer.

Blue Quadrant magazine with Poetry, Libby Sommer on the cover

There’s my name on the cover of September Quadrant. First time I’ve made it to the cover under Poetry. This month it’s a prose poem titled AMBER PUPPY. I share the honour with poets Jamie Grant, Isi Unikowski, Francine Rochford, James Ackburst, Tim Train, Ugo Rotellini and Andrew Lansdown.

white envelope beside blue Quadrant September 2019 magazine cover

And there’s the white envelope containing my cheque. Halleluja!

So what is a prose poem?

Dictionary:  a piece of imaginative poetic writing in prose.

Poetry Foundation:  A prose composition that, while not broken into verse lines, demonstrates other traits such as symbols, metaphors, and other figures of speech common to poetry …

WikipediaProse poetry is poetry written in prose form instead of verse form, while preserving poetic qualities such as heightened imagery, parataxis, and emotional effects.

Academy of American Poets:  Though the name of the form may appear to be a contradiction, the prose poem essentially appears as prose, but reads like poetry. In the first issue of The Prose Poem: An International Journal, editor Peter Johnson explained, “Just as black humor straddles the fine line between comedy and tragedy, so the prose poem plants one foot in prose, the other in poetry, both heels resting precariously on banana peels.”  While it lacks the line breaks associated with poetry, the prose poem maintains a poetic quality, often utilizing techniques common to poetry, such as fragmentation, compression, repetition, and rhyme. The prose poem can range in length from a few lines to several pages long, and it may explore a limitless array of styles and subjects.

I love writing prose poems. They are definitely my preferred writing form just now.

Have a read of AMBER PUPPY. Quadrant magazine is available in newsagents, some book stores, online and in libraries.

Quadrant magazine cover September 2019

 

 

Poem in Anthology

full length of man sitting on floor

 

red book cover of Wild anthology

Wow! Exciting news. I’m delighted to say my poem BRONTE BEACH has been selected for inclusion in the Ginninderra Press Wild Anthology. The anthology has been edited by Joan Fenney and includes 159 talented poets from across Australia exploring the many facets of ‘wild’ – human, animal, environmental and metaphorical. The book will be launched on 7th July as part of the Ginninderra Press 10 year celebrations in Port Adelaide. I’ll be in Adelaide reading my poem at East Avenue Books in Clarence Park at 2pm on 8th July. Would be great to see you then.

the book of longing

Leonard Cohen's 'Book of Longing' with bird in a tree cover drawing

As the world mourns the death of legendary songwriter and musician Leonard Cohen, his art lives on.

The Hallelujah singer’s death last week sparked a massive outpouring of grief across the internet, from fans and fellow musicians alike, including Beck, Courtney Love, A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip and Nick Cave.

“For many of us, Leonard Cohen was the greatest songwriter of them all. Utterly unique and impossible to imitate, no matter how hard we tried,” Cave wrote.

News of Cohen’s death, coming on the heels of the US presidential election results, was also praised by tweeters as the singer’s last compassionate corrective to hateful political chatter, bringing the world’s attention back to the redeeming beauty of art.

“The date of Leonard Cohen’s death is not a coincidence,” went one widely shared tweet. “He did it so we’d stop talking about an imbecile, and instead focus on poetry.”- Sydney Morning Herald

Leonard Cohen made his name as a poet before he came to worldwide attention as a singer and songwriter.

He wrote the poems in Book of Longing his first book of poetry in more than twenty years during his five-year stay at a Zen monastery on Southern California’s Mount Baldy, and in Los Angeles, Montreal, and Mumbai. This dazzling collection is enhanced by the author’s playful and provocative drawings, which interact in exciting, unexpected ways on the page with poetry that is timeless, meditative, and often darkly humorous. An international sensation, Book of Longing contains all the elements that have brought Cohen’s artistry with language worldwide recognition. – Book Depository

The poems in Book of Longing show the full range of one of the most influential and enigmatic writers of his generation.

The book of longing

I can’t make the hills
The system is shot
I’m living on pills
For which I thank G-d
I followed the course
From chaos to art
Desire the horse
Depression the cart
I sailed like a swan
I sank like a rock
But time is long gone
Past my laughing stock
My page was too white
My ink was too thin
The day wouldn’t write
What the night penciled in
My animal howls
My angel’s upset
But I’m not allowed
A trace of regret
For someone will use
What I couldn’t be
My heart will be hers
Impersonally
She’ll step on the path
She’ll see what I mean
My will cut in half
And freedom between
For less than a second
Our lives will collide
The endless suspended
The door open wide
Then she will be born
To someone like you
What no one has done
She’ll continue to do
I know she is coming
I know she will look
And that is the longing
And this is the book – Leonard Cohen

Who do you think should have won the Nobel Prize for Literature, Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen?