wakefield press / friendly street poets
ISBN 978 1 74305 099 6 / march 2012
urban biology is Ian’s first full collection of poetry. The poems employ diverse voices: various animals, historical figures, scientists, visitors from elsewhere. They vary in form from barely heard phrases to complex longer works with inter-linked sequences with multiple points of view. The work is informed by science that rigorous, rational and mechanistic. Yet the poems are suffused with wonder and respect, as they explore the limits of language to describe our environment and our emotional responses to it.
Here are a couple of sample poems:
Lullabies, Gardens Road Cemetery
Through the stillness you invoke when the traffic goes quiet,
when the wind falls calm and leaves quiver but do not drop,
you may convince yourself: “Yes, I can hear them.” Perhaps
flowers might have been folded from tissue paper or Chinese silk;
a plaque might once have been a ploughshare, perhaps only one
breath, only one name, unaccompanied, only “Tom”, unadorned.
Yes, perhaps you can hear them: hushed below widow-maker gums,
buttressed figs, under tussocks, dandelions, iron wrought by sadness,
these wistful strains, the lullabies of the barely born, a mother’s song,
after Father, finally, unremittingly, never returned; perhaps you
can hear her incantation, embedded in oxide and earth, whispered
on this eternal November the fifth, nineteen hundred and forty-six.
Departing the Gardens, perhaps you can ignore hints of gristle, caul,
marrow, sinew. Perhaps you can ask a translation of polished marble.
Perhaps, out of silence, you can tally the miles old lullabies have slept.
~ originally published in page seventeen 8, 2nd prize in their national poetry competition, 2010 ~
Middle of the Road
This is nothing like
magnolias floating in a bowl of mercury
schools of flying-fish beneath
a glittering Tommy Ruff sky
conversations between spider orchids
barely audible through the thornbrush
barely audible through
the tangle of cassette tapes
the twisted telephone wires
the finger-picked notes
in the glove-box of my car.
This is nothing like
the broken white line
that divides my fluttering attention
that stills the butterflies
barely audible, trapped
within the pit of my stomach.
~ originally published in Blast 7, 2008 ~
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