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Sport 21: Spring 1998



Two large collections of poetry accompanied me to Australia: Collected Writings in French by Jean (Hans) Arp and James K. Baxter's Collected Poems. 5 On the return flight, these weighty volumes were again consigned to hand-luggage to lighten the significantly overweight suitcases in the hold. Travelling east, I remember reading Baxter's ‘Air Flight North’:

I do not like this chariot. It gives me
Faustian dreams. Undoing the seat belt

And lighting up a smoke …

… I meditate the doom

Of Icarus, while the hostess brings
Coffee in trim red mugs. A calm flight.

These lines rang true for a 21-year-old with only a suspicion or intuited sense that all was not right with the world, and an emerging belief that poetry might almost make up for that. In hindsight I think that the year 1982, to start with, was a runway we taxied out onto. The rest of the year was one long plane trip, from the time I took off until I landed 12 months later.