Live Encounters Poetry & Writing May 2021
Special edition featuring poets from Australia & New Zealand.
Dr Mark Tredinnick BA (Hons), LLB (Hons), MBA, PhD—is a celebrated poet, essayist, and teacher. His many works of poetry and prose include A Gathered Distance, Almost Everything I Know, Egret in a Ploughed Field, Bluewren Cantos, Fire Diary, The Blue Plateau, and The Little Red Writing Book. For twenty-five years, he’s taught poetry and expressive writing at the University of Sydney, where he was poet in residence in 2018. His many honours include two of the world’s foremost poetry prizes, the Montreal and the Cardiff. “His is a bold, big-thinking poetry,” Sir Andrew Motion has written, “in which ancient themes (especially the theme of our human relationship with landscape) are recast and rekindled.” “One of our great poets of place,” Judy Beveridge has called him. In 2020, Tredinnick was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for services to literature and education. His latest book is his fourth collection, Walking Underwater (Pitt Street poetry, 2021); his fifth collection, A Beginner’s Guide, appears on 2 January 2022 (Bird Fish). Mark is the father of five, and he lives with his partner Jodie Williams in Gundungurra country, along the Wingecarribee, southwest of Sydney. In 2020 he launched his online poetry masterclass series, What the Light Tells. For more: marktredinnick.com.
The Godwit Shores
I DON’T Mind the rain at all,
you said. A small articulation of how it is
You ‘ve learned to live so well. There’s nothing much
You don’t know how to weather and divine
How, in time, to practise care upon.
Like these birds, who fly the bright
And quiet news of you on seasonal loops around the earth,
A miracle lost on all but the few who look
but also see among three generations
Lost to all that matters (except themselves), you walk a light-footed
Electricity of hope across the tidal flats, you fathom
A feast from unpropitious shores,
and you fly, when you’re ready, a flight
Of immaculate affection for where you find yourself and where
You’ll likely find yourself next—some farther place,
some sedgeland, some selvedge, some steppe.
And this year, for your birthday, the heavens chose to pour
Where last time they’d shone, and you found no less
Joy in that. Happiness is what happens
and how you practise that with love: this
Is what your life tells, its art the same art as these shores.
For Jodie Williams
PERHAPS, LOVE, we are like the two eagles, who surf
The break-neck breeze above the basalt
Shore at dusk, quartering the moon
between us, the intemperate tide at bay
Beneath us. Perhaps, love, like the birds, we hang here easy in the eye
Of a southerly gale, held like a breath above the affray,
two years as fast as a fortnight behind us,
The day already a decade deep.
(And miles to go… And miles.)
ON THE BRIDGE above the lake, we stop
And watch green algae walk on water under-
Neath. Black ducks swim tracks in it,
Like frigates through floe-ice. Near shore
Where tea-trees sip the Autumn air, the scrim
Thins to a loose selvedge in which a scum
Of sky floats. For all the world, the lake’s
Become the land.
Mind at its black art
Works this way, too: it lays floors down
To sink beneath them thoughts too dark
To think, traumas too much like death to live,
Failures too utter to speak; but the floor, it turns
Out, is a fabric, and lost thoughts don’t drown;
Dark matter won’t dissolve. Ghosts
That ache for bodies to walk and voices to wail
The world, our sorrows need our mercy; they bloat
And want the light, and over time, they float
And break surface.
Waterbirds at breakfast
Make wakes for them; the bright plaints of butcher-
Birds divine them; parrots, dwelling, as far
As one can tell, in lives without remorse,
Browse them up from garden beds. Don’t think
You’ll ever be ready to bear the grief you’ve spent
A lifetime turned from. But what looks hard will yield.
Use small gestures, radically kind; raise
The floor; lift the roof. Drag the pond.
Dead weights, once loosed, will let you fly; the sky
Will swim the lake again. The light will let
The darkness in and birds will swim and fissures
Fly, and days half dead will never die again.
—Bendigo Botanic Gardens. Easter Morning
© Mark Tredinnick