101 Poems

RP 101 Poems (paperback)
RP 101 Poems (paperback)
B format 128 x 198 mm. 186 pages. Full colour cover.
Price: A$32.00
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Ron Pretty’s new and selected collection, 101 Poems is published by Pitt Street Poetry. Pretty has been writing and publishing for over 50 years, and this new book contains a selection of the best poems from his eight earlier collections and five chapbooks, plus a selection of new poems. The concerns that motivated his earlier work are displayed here as the poems explore family, ethical and political issues, other cultures and our own, and music.
A summing up of a life’s work; this will be his last published collection.

The Left Hand Mirror

The Left Hand Mirror (paperback)
The Left Hand Mirror (paperback)
Paperback B format 128 x 198 mm. 12 pages. Full colour cover.
ISBN 978-1-922080-80-6. 1
Price: A$28.00
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Freed from the relentless grind of publishing other people’s poetry books, Ron Pretty’s late great flowering is producing some of the finest new poetry written anywhere by anyone in recent years. In this new collection he ranges widely, from the butterfly poems – a form he has made his own – to a long, moving sequence on the rewards and rebuffs of transcultural adoption.

Creating Poetry (third edition)

Creating Poetry, 3rd edition (paperback)
Creating Poetry, 3rd edition (paperback)
Paperback 153 x 229 mm. 188 pages. Full colour cover.
ISBN 978-1-922080-56-1.
Third edition 2015
Price: A$32.00
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Creating Poetry is a book about how to write poetry, written by one of Australia’s best loved poets.

A textbook, certainly, but so much more.  Full of advice, wisdom, good humour and wry warnings of beginners’ mistakes.  And full of poetry – excerpts and examples of work from the very best Australian and global poets, including many writing now.

All you need to write a poem is a pencil, a piece of paper, and an idea.  The result may a fine piece of work, or a sad embarrassment.

Ron Pretty’s Creating Poetry will help you transform that bad poem into something to be proud of.   From simple exercises for the beginner, through to the complexities of the sonnet form, the villanelle, or the enjambments of modern verse.

Creating Poetry first appeared in 1987, with a revised edition in 2001. For decades it was used in workshops and masterclasses across the land.  Then the book became hard to find.  Aspiring poets have been chasing down battered copies in second hand bookshops.

For 2015 the book has been completely rewritten, with new examples and nearly thirty years of additional experience and guile.   Now, once again, every poetry lover, every aspiring poet can keep a copy of this classic handbook on their writing desk or bedside table.

A Flicker of Eyelids

She plays the what if game, only
it isn’t a game. She wants to know
what can’t be known, not yet.
Some things she won’t accept, and who
could blame her, though we know
there is no happy ending. What if he wakes,
and I’m not there, what kind of a wife
is that? Love, we say, her aching parents,
it’s eighteen months and still
no sign. What if he’s in there, what if
that flicker of eyelids means his mind
is still working but just can’t show us?

We look at one another: how can we
remind her of the xrays, brain scans, all
the gadgetry modern medicine has brought
to diagnosis. Asleep on the bed, can he
possibly remember what we all recall:
a summer morning, a bicycle, a car
that did not stop in time, a coma
that shows no sign of ending. Day after
day she sits by his bed, watching that
tiny flicker of eyelid. Each morning, she knows,
is the next day of the rest of his life.
What if today’s the day he wakes, she says.

August 6

We walked the lanes of the old town, the bars
and restaurants, the cobbled streets choked with tourists.
Tourists ourselves, we wandered with the crowds,
looking for deals, looking for food. Cheap pasta,
dearer fish: uncontaminated sea bass. My wife picked up
her fish knife, then put it down. I looked at her, tears
in her eyes. Fish, she said. Enola Gay, she said,
the waters off Japan so long and now again.
I watched a small boy struggling past, forcing his stroller
across the cobbles, his parents behind him, laughing.
Three girls, their dark hair and bright eyes. The bass
was moist and finely flavoured, the pinot grigio dry
and fruity. She sat there staring at her plate. I can’t, she said.
Always a half-life: us away, the children at home.

Four Hands

There are such moments: once in Vienna
looking out at that white winter
while behind me four hands at the keyboard,
Schubert with his magic shaping those crystals,
a filigree of ice on the window tree.
Evening was falling, the light was fading
from his eyes, his minor key coughing
blood onto the manuscript as the notes sang

and as I listened snow was drifting down
settling on cars and cobbles and on your lashes
as you came in from the threatening sky.
Darkness was in the music, winter whispered
of night but you were there aglow with health,
in from the cold to the dying falls
of Schubert’s music, that moment when
you took off your coat and came to me
holding my world together as we listened.
Snow and music filled the air.