2013 started quietly enough for Pitt Street Poetry, after a longish summer break. But now as the days shorten, events and projects are crowding in. During autumn (and on into winter) we can look forward to four book launches and a newly signed poet reading her work on the ABC radio program Poetica.
Our first book for the year is a reissue of Luke Davies’ first poetry book Four Plots for Magnets. Originally published when Davies was just 20 years old by poet S. K. Kelen at the romantically named Glandular Press in Sydney in 1982, this youthful jeux d’esprit started life as a slim stapled pamphlet of 13 poems. There is a sense of heady intoxication in the verse – with Sydney, with love, with life, with afternoon television – and not infrequently with intoxication as an end in itself.
Now aged 50, Davies offers these poems to his devoted readers once again as an opportunity to share a cheerful reunion with long-lost, slightly wayward children who have stubbornly refused to grow up. In a long, wry, self-deprecating foreword, illustrated with snapshots from his own collection, he tells the story of how the book came to be and what it was like to be a young poet in Sydney in the early 80s.
Searching back through his files, Davies has found 53 additional previously uncollected poems written in the same two year period at the beginning of the decade. There are eight pages of notes on the poems, some scholarly enough, some more mischievous glosses on the various contemporary allusions which pepper the book.
The original publisher, poet S. K. Kelen, rounds out the publication with a reflective afterword, charting Davies’ course since those early days and making the link between the poems in Four Plots and those of his maturity in books such as the recent Interferon Psalms, which won the inaugural Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Poetry in 2012.
Four Plots for Magnets will be launched in Melbourne by distinguished poet and literary academic Grant Caldwell on Wednesday 15th May at 5.30pm at the Wheeler Centre in Little Lonsdale Street. All are welcome and drinks will be served.
In Sydney the launch of Four Plots for Magnets will take place as part of the Sydney Writers Festival at the Brett Whiteley Studio at 2 Raper St, Surry Hills on Sunday 26th May at 2pm. Festival international guest Irish poet Dermot Healy will launch the book. This will be a double launch with Michael Brennan’s new poetry collection Autoethnographic from Giramondo – recently awarded the Grace Leven prize – to be launched by David Malouf.
This event is free to attend but bookings are essential and can be made by sending an email to the Brett Whiteley Studio poetry event series curator Angela Stretch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
During the course of the year we plan to feature each new poetry book in some detail in this blog as the time for publication approaches.
Meanwhile, by way of a brief heads up, Canberrans can mark in their diary the advent of a new verse novel by local poet Lesley Lebkowicz, with images by Sydney artist Dean Brown. The Petrov Poems explores the gripping story of Australia’s most notorious spy scandal. It will be launched by Canberra poet John Foulcher at Paperchain Bookshop in Manuka, ACT on Thursday 27th June at 6pm.
And to round out the quartet of launches, Ron Pretty’s new book for Pitt Street Poetry What the Afternoon Knows, the product of a recent Australia Council residency in Rome, will launch in mid-July. More details Real Soon Now.
Finally, let us close this May missive with a warm welcome to the newest member of the Pitt Street Poetry family: Melinda Smith, whose latest poetry collection – provisionally titled Drag down to unlock or place an emergency call – will be published by Pitt Street Poetry in the spring. You can enjoy a sneak preview when Melinda reads her poem ‘Roadside memorials’ on the ABC’s weekly poetry radio program Poetica on Saturday 11th May at 3pm as part of a broad-ranging examination of the use of the villanelle in contemporary Australian poetry.